Sharks and Minnows

William Evans

The soccer class wasn’t

designed to be all girls

but sometimes you get

lucky and sometimes

your daughter finds herself

surrounded by hard charging

boys who ignore basic

requests so you test her

with the older class. Here

she looks eight years

old but is not eight years old,

running with the other jubilant

girls, passing with the inside

of her foot, kicking with more

ambition than control

and every so often they play

a game called sharks and minnows

where their coach makes

an elegant apex predator

and kicks the soccer balls at the girls

as a form of tag. You can

imagine the playful screams,

you can imagine the girls

minnow, lungs darting

away from the would-be fang

of the sea. Once in a while

they invite the adults to be sharks

and I hope I’m the last, I hope

the girls will always run until

their chests are as empty

as a boy’s promise. I hope my aim

with a soccer ball is near miss

enough to recognize the pattern.

I hope games will always dress

themselves as games and water

will feel different against their

darting bodies when the game

is not a game but math is simple

so I know this will not be true

even as I keep missing the girls;

sidestep, jump over and around,

taunt and giggle until it takes

all of the language from them

and I think for them this is a good

life so far, this is joy and translucent

and because I haven’t tagged anyone

with a ball in a while and my role

could not be more clear, I begin

to kick the soccer balls harder.


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