Dawn McGuire

Shadow Men

Half-court B-Ball in Codornices Park
is the great leveler. The tree trimmer from
PG&E blocks a shot from the guy who made a million
shorting Netflix; then the sub-assistant manager
for Yoghurt Harmony fouls the ball and the City
Councilman misses from the line. Attack the paint!
a few of us shout randomly, tired of walking our 
OCD Shih Tzu’s and Irish Setters. The Netflix guy

hands me his Rolex, and the tree trimmer gives me
his wallet and his Celebrex. Half an hour ago
they were strangers. I still wouldn’t recognize them
in street clothes. In shiny shorts and soaked tee shirts
their midriffs pook way out. Everyone’s does.
No one can dunk, but the tree trimmer still eyes
the rim, and the sub-assistant dribbles behind his back
for a second. I’m in love. It’s October, the rose garden

still has Wife of Bath in bloom and Korresia.
Baby Jesus floribunda borders all the walkways.
Finally the man-on-man defense collapses
and whatever team was winning wins. Don’t die,
I whisper to these shadow men, these morphs
of what I might have been, if on a singular
night a little y-bearing sperm had
had more swagger. It would not

—it would—would it?—have mattered?
The social studies teacher is coming over
for a slug of Gatorade. He needs a knee brace.
Probably he will never read a thing I write.
I stopped believing in a mirror of transcendence,
but this tired man in front of me, his face all shiny
and serene, a man so convinced that his thirst
is quenchable—must be what holy means.