Basketball

Basketball
by Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr.

Aminatta Sumah
From 1992- 2010
Was the best there ever was
A breadwinner
She averaged 2 victories in her lifetime,
I’m living proof
She rebounded from high blood pressure and diabetes
To go on and win the respect of those she cared for

A Master of the game clock
While wearing the blue and white,
She averaged 15 assists to the elderly in their last minutes as players on this earth
And while wearing the hug and the smile
She averaged even more to
hurt tummies, bad days, and puberty

She was the strongest coach I ever had, A mother

In her last days
She laid on her hospital bed Smiling,
Looked onto her children as if “victory”
Was stamped on our foreheads, because
She knew we would champion her after
She lost this fight
I sat, on the sidelines of her bedframe,
Eyelids peeled to the ceiling
Hoping, God would descend
And teach me the skills to assist from this bench,

Her eyes, quenched from the well that had formed in mine 

So She smiled

And the IV sobbed for her.

A hospital couldn’t cure like the basketball court did

So I left,

Check ball

Mama,
I taught your daughter how to dribble once
Told her, the way a basketball splashes against the asphalt
Could keep tears from doing the same.
And as long as we kept our heads up
Nothing could steal from us again

But Ma,
Life plays games
Little sisters just aren’t
Conditioned to compete in,
And neither am I
But when I play, its like
I found the cure to cancer
In an orange pill
So I inject the ball into the sky
Wishing, its sudden swishing
Will heal both you and I

I must shoot
Every chance I get
I shoot
Every chance to Win
The game Life didn’t give you the chance to—

You’re the reason why I love layups
You were Gentle and Swift
You’re the reason why I love Fast breaks
You were Pressure but a Gift
You are why
I refuse to ever have the ball stolen from me
Life, stole you from me
And I’ll keep drawing fouls in the paint
If it means, every shot, I hit, brings me closer to the win
To you, until victory is stamped on my forehead

When we lost,
You
On that hospital bed
It seemed like running
Suicides
Was the only way out of the game.

The score has been Cancer—1
My sister and I–Zero
But I refuse
To lose anymore

I often wondered why people
Always got so passionate arguing over scores:

I know now,
That when you can’t escape the game life plays—
Every point, every parent
Counts.

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