By Thomas J. Glasco

The only official athletic event of Porter Country
School is slated today, May 6, 1963.
The sunflowers with bold yellow petals
Smile in the fields.
The robins and red headed woodpeckers
Play the fife and drum.
The five country schools of Cheyenne County Kansas
Meet on the St. Francis High School track.
The fifty-yard dash, (hoot scoot boogie) is the first event.
Clair adjusts his feet in the blocks,
Then rises to aim his smoldering eyes at the finish.
My brother powers a commanding lead.
His arms pump a vigorous poetry.
His lean legs cut through gravity.
The timer hands the blue ribbon to my father.

My Dad’s mind travels back to a verdict
In August that shook him down,
Robbed him of dignity and the natural order
Of child development.
His father, John Glasco, told him
He could not attend high school.
Dad carried this sorrow for fifty-three years.
At the local Courthouse he wept
With sympathetic friends.
Witnessing his son win a blue,
Two faint tears slide down his cheeks.
He holds the blue ribbon like the
Diploma he was unable to achieve.

Dad steps out to the next event, the long jump.
Clair’s speed and spring make him a natural,
And eyes ogle his first leap.
He springs from the board like a puma cat and
Flies with the wings of a trumpeter swan.
He leans to keep the forward flight.
His first jump suffices,
Outdistances all competitors.

Dad receives Clair’s second ribbon.
He walks with a straight posture and
Excitement buzzes his chest,
A honeybee cooking sweetness.
The next stop is the high jump.
Clair lays his right hand on his knee
And bounds for the high jump bar.
He visualizes how he will
Sail over the present height.
Soon he champions another win.
He’s a frog huffing on the harmonica
And this kid can dance.

My dad was badly burned when
I was a teenager.
Diesel fuel ignited his clothing.
He whimpered as I drove him home.
His visible pain rivets my mind.
His hands feel the silk texture of
Another blue.
His scared legs draw strength and healing
From his son’s victory.

The stakes are higher in the pole vault.
The aluminum pole doesn’t stretch like
The fiberglass poles used presently.
Clair sprints to the planting box
Rides the pole up.
John Bolio is a contender from
South Fork School.
On the sixth height John misses.
Clair’s chin rattles on the descent of
The eighth notch.

Dad accepts the fourth blue ribbon.
My father sees an image of Alan on the field,
Close to the pole vault area.
Our beautiful brother Alan, died of
Pneumonia at eighteen months.
The heavy sobs that erupt when Dad
Thinks of Alan are not forthcoming.
Light tears leave wet furrows on his face.
His breathing eases into a dove song.

The cinema in his mind seats him on the
Steps of the native rock courthouse.
His friends are beside him.
He holds a blue ribbon in one hand
And his high school diploma in the other.

Categories: Issue 5, Poetry | Leave a comment

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