"Ten bucks says you can't do it," shrilled Jack Boles,
who didn't have ten bucks, but had a Junior
Gymnastics gold medal from the "Y."
Dad leaned his rake against our sweetgum tree;
lowered his hands, and sighed. His belly—soft
and rounded as a pile of leaves—flexed
with his knees before they straightened, shooting him
up higher than I could have dreamed, his arms
level with the ground, knees lifting to meet
his hands, which pulled his knees over his head
as he spun like a cam on a drive-shaft,
a Foosball-man on its shish kebab of steel.
For an instant he hung: a poor, tricked codger
upended in his chair, thin gray hair plummeting
straight down. I pictured him stretched
on the ground, spine snapped, heart burst,
white-coated medics mouthing, " . . . nothing
we can do." But he kept turning, his tuck
opening, legs feeling for the ground.
His feet hit hard. He staggered, took a half-step
back, arms shooting out like antennae—
a Victory V—as the lawn, a Texas sponge,
sprayed creosote into Zack's face,
and streams of crystal glory over me.
from Reading the Water, published by Northeastern University Press, © 1997 by Charles Harper Webb.