Before the season, we were already pissed,
our bodies tightening around ribs, our eyes,
like panthers, sinking into shadows.

We had given up food, sweat until
the air around us was heavy. The only thing
we cared about was winning.

At our first match, I wrestled a guy
I had met summers ago at a Filipino gathering,
some first communion or baptism.

By a man-made lake separating the neighborhood
in two, where most of the children had wandered,
a few of the boys pinned my shoulders against a tree

while one punched me. I could say it was because
I was only half, a mestizo, but that would be too easy.
We were just boys, happy in our anger.

When they let me go, their eyes clouded as the lake,
I didnít say a word. Years later, when I pulled
the one who had punched me down on the mat,

I watched the clock as I locked a breath inside his throat.
He could have been my brother, his hair the same
coarse black strands, his face filled with my shadow.

I held him there in front of everyone.

Previous poem

Next poem