“Why I Might Go to the Next Football Game” — Denis Johnson

“Why I Might Go to the Next Football Game”

by

Denis Johnson


sometimes you know
things: once at a
birthday party a little

girl looked at her new party
gloves and said she
liked me, making suddenly the light much
brighter so that the very small

hairs shone above her lip. i felt
stuffed, like a swimming pool, with
words, like i knew something that was in
a great tangled knot. and when we sat

down i saw there were
tiny glistenings on her
legs, too. i knew
something for sure then. but it

was too big, or like the outside too
everywhere, or maybe
hiding inside, behind
the bicycles where i later

kissed her, not using my tongue. it was
too giant and thin to squirm
into, and be so well inside of, or
too well hidden to punch, and feel. a few

days later on the asphalt playground i
tackled her. she skinned her
elbow, and i even
punched her and felt her, felt

how soft the hairs were. i thought
that i would make a fine football-playing
poet, but now i know
it is better to be an old, breathing

man wrapped in a great coat in the stands, who
remains standing after each play, who knows
something, who rotates in his place
rasping over and over the thing

he knows: “whydidnhe pass? the other
end was wide open! the end
was wide open! the end was wide open . . . ”

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