"Dew"

By David Musgrave

None are more familiar with dew

         than professional footballers. From early

grades they are used to running through

         practice drills and hurling their burly

frames through rucks while the moist chaff

         of wet grass under the winter lights

softens their fall, accustoms the half-

         back to the slippery ball and writes

green cuneiform on wet sandshoes.

         And they fear it in the morning,

kicking off the dew in the ‘twos’

         because they ignored a coach’s warning.

Half their lives are spent in clouds

         of condensation or the cold heat

of a winter sun where even the crowds

         seem like droplets on the concrete

rose of the stadium. In the final days

         of their season, sweat-spangled on the eve

of their triumph, the ball on a string and their plays

         honed, even the doubters believe.

And the last day is, once again,

         already an aftermath: the ground’s been shaved

and sucked dry by the noon sun

         and the paddock has become a paved

and bristled hell for those who will

         collide with it and pinion flesh on

earth, earth on flesh and spill

         blood for the sake of the game. Possession

is the law; all are possessed.

         And when the crowd melts into the dry

darkness, after that great red football’s

         booted between the uprights of the sky-

scrapers and gone, the sky bawls

         cheerless little drops for the victors

and decks the oval with the losers’ jewels.