In the huddle you said “Go long—get open”
and at the snap I took off along the right sideline
and then cut across left in a long arc
and I’m sure I was open at several points—
glancing back I saw you pump-fake more than once
but you must not have been satisfied with what you saw downfield
and then I got bumped off course and my hands touched the turf
but I regained my balance and dashed back to the right
I think or maybe first left and then right
and I definitely got open but the throw never came—

maybe you thought I couldn’t hang on to a ball flung so far
or maybe you actually can’t throw so far
but in any case I feel quite open now,
the defenders don’t seem too interested in me
I sense only open air all around me
though the air is getting darker and it would appear
by now we’re well into the fourth quarter
and I strongly doubt we can afford to settle for
dinky little first downs if the score is what I think it is

so come on, star boy, fling a Hail Mary
with a dream-coached combination of muscle and faith
and I will gauge the arc and I will not be stupidly frantic
and I will time my jump and—I’m just going to say
in the cool gloaming of this weirdly long game
it is not impossible that I will make the catch.

  • Mark Halliday, "Wide Receiver" from Thresherphobe. Copyright © 2013 by Mark Halliday.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

  • Source: Thresherphobe (The University of Chicago Press, 2013)

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