Gabrielle CalvocoressiUSAWriting2010
Every Person In This Town Loves Football


Even the nuns come out
to watch the boys in their
gold and blue. Sister Marita,
Sister Anne and some weeks


Sister Perpetua who still
uses the ruler on our outstretched
hands. Even the mills
get quiet and how


the new freeway subsides
for awhile so we almost
remember the fields
full of tobacco and feed


corn, the older kids
sent out to harvest alongside
those men who’d come up
from the South. It’s hard


on the hands my babysitter
told me and showed the small
cuts like netting placed over
the palm. She’d calm me


down when I woke or I’d come
downstairs to find her splayed
out on the couch, head thrown
back and Keith, our quartererback,


working above her. Everybody
loves that sound: all the breath
sucked out of the town and just
as quickly it roars back in,


his arm tensed and stuttering
till he just lets go. From the arm,
from the start of the arc and now
over the heads of Beckett and Pulaski,


over the girls in their short short skirts
to the place where the blast furnace
meets the darkness. Who’s your daddy?
If he lived in this town he played


the game too and every girl
held his name in her mouth.
He wore dress shirts on game day
with a tie and his jersey


on top. He walked down the halls
smelling of Old Spice and chew.
Who could break a boy like that?
Who could grind his smallest bones


or show him the bars where men spill
out of their worn letter jackets.
Come Friday we’ll turn the lights on.
You’ll see us from everywhere.


At Last the New Arriving

Like the horn you played in Catholic school
the city will open its mouth and cry

out. Don’t worry 'bout nothing. Don’t mean
no thing. It will leave you stunned

as a fighter with his eyes swelled shut
who’s told he won the whole damn purse.

It will feel better than any floor
that’s risen up to meet you. It will rise

like Easter bread, golden and familiar
in your grandmother’s hands. She’ll come back,

Heaven having been too far from home
to hold her. O it will be beautiful.

Every girl will ask you to dance and the boys
won’t kill you for it. Shake your head.

Dance until your bones clatter. What a prize
you are. What a lucky sack of stars.