We learn names fast on this street by watching footwork hearing them chant for whoever holds court a victory at their feet that can’t be bought
Scuffed school shoes toeing the ball this way, that lost again in seconds flat again, again, again cawing verbs, begging for a battered balloon a sphere so tattered one could assume it nears death
Again, for it they call a squalling clutch of baby birds leak, lank breathing cold air like ship steam bolting up the flank – the hot chimneys of their unblemished lungs pumping fuel a scrabble, a dance none too cool for rough knees and shins
Their backwards prance gains pace, with speed stab and volley thrilled, each shriek in kind as the ball flies upwards they gaze, running blind their ragged god lost in the winter sun
Gunther did not remember much about his death. In fact, the moment had passed somewhat uneventfully and, had it not been for the audience’s few gasps of surprise and an ill-timed giggle, he might have thought he’d dreamt it up altogether.
Emily had been sat in the second row, slightly left of centre stage – not that he’d been able to see his wife during much of the performance itself. The stage lamps had masked the audience from the players with a brilliantly intense void of white light. He had felt the glow draw conspicuous beads of sweat to his forehead almost the instant he had taken his first steps on stage, like the rapid onset of fever. It had felt like being in the presence of a dying star.
When it gets late, we watch Cops on TV, once all the rest have made their way to bed. Then you make cheese on toast, and I make tea – we feel inclined to sit up late, instead – and though our conversation is quite plain, you’ll show me something funny on your phone, and when we laugh our ribs vibrate with pain, as though at something we should have outgrown. At three or four o’clock we start to shrink; my tired mind begins to wonder whether you’ll think about us sitting here, in sync, when you and I no longer live together. For me, it’s that I’ll miss, though it seems trite – when we watch Cops together late at night.