Defensive end poet Ross Gay, pushing forty
sitting in the dark soil of tenure’s orchard
rolling through Guggenheim’s winter
has two alternating football dreams,
even in the days his third poetry collection
ties up its loose ends with a binder clip
as his garden book and his football book
roll slowly through his pen.
One dream distilled to the essence:
running late, tangled, lost, displaced,
self-doubt enacted in Dream Ross arriving
on the D1 football field fully suited
only to discover this week’s dream contest
is on another field, crosstown
and there’s no team bus to carry him there.
The other longs for one more year of experience.
In it Dream Ross arrives for his
sophomore season after having not a single
moment of playing time to his name.
At Dream Layafette College Dream Ross
begs the coach to revise their pasts
to count last season as his redshirt year
to extend the eligibility for all of us
that we might grow a few more inches,
write poems, and run the margins cleanly,
another year to learn what is expected of us,
to try not to care anything
about the judgment of others.