Nike Made a Commercial
I watched on repeat. What I mean to say is,
an ad caught my attention as it flashed by, and wouldn’t let go,
and I had only more thirst for it. Hats off, I guess.
French narration graveled over frames of the team
that won the World Cup, young men who outran the outskirts of cities —
I heard its declarative copy, recognized
its syntax swelling with lyric hopes, that instinct
to herald tucked beneath each studied
pause. The copywriter a quick study, a swifter sell.
Yes, and an old story; archetypes, after all, are easier
for metrics to perform against. But which of us who’d
felt a certain weight could resist the story that goes,
what I am was made, what I have done was done, when
the days, dragging with adult worry, slyly pulled
on my thin ankles, taunted me to pull a fast one.
Isn’t that why,
Kylian, I saw in Bondy a third-floor walk-up transposed
from Queens, why, Sam, I found in Menival a one-bedroom
rattled by trains with gray carpet fighting jaundice, why, Ousmane,
I sat myself down decades ago in the half of the living room
that was mine
in La Madeleine and wrote something. The August heatwave
a tyrant whose throne I prayed the A/C would usurp but only once
delivered. Lunch left on “keep warm” by Dad and Mom, the sheen of new
immigrant sweat on their foreheads, out to haggle a living with
iced tea samples in his van and 60 words per minute on her resume.
Isn’t that how I could be certain there must have been
a kindling summer whose emptiness brooked no delay, singed you as it did me —
where you were forged: yes, and my obsession
with those lavishly paid-for 30 seconds, and this poem too.
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