“Fast Break” by Edward Hirsch
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
In Memory of Dennis Turner, 1946-1984
A hook shot kisses the rim and hangs there, helplessly, but doesn't drop, and for once our gangly starting center boxes out his man and times his jump perfectly, gathering the orange leather from the air like a cherished possession and spinning around to throw a strike to the outlet who is already shoveling an underhand pass toward the other guard scissoring past a flat-footed defender who looks stunned and nailed to the floor in the wrong direction, trying to catch sight of a high, gliding dribble and a man letting the play develop in front of him in slow motion, almost exactly like a coach's drawing on the blackboard, both forwards racing down the court the way that forwards should, fanning out and filling the lanes in tandem, moving together as brothers passing the ball between them without a dribble, without a single bounce hitting the hardwood until the guard finally lunges out and commits to the wrong man while the power-forward explodes past them in a fury, taking the ball into the air by himself now and laying it gently against the glass for a lay-up, but losing his balance in the process, inexplicably falling, hitting the floor with a wild, headlong motion for the game he loved like a country and swiveling back to see an orange blur floating perfectly through the net.
from Wild Gratitude, 1990
Copyright 1990 by Edward Hirsch.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Knopf from Wild Gratitude. Copyright 1986 by Edward Hirsch. For further permissions information, contact Michael Greaves, Alfred A. Knopf, Publishers, 299 Park Avenue, New York, NY, 10171, phone 212-751-2600, fax 212-572-2593.
About the Poet
Edward Hirsch (1950- ) is the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. His nine poetry collections include Gabriel: A Poem (Knopf, 2014). Hirsch was educated at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a PhD in folklore.
Learn more about Edward Hirsch at The Poetry Foundation..