Kick Just before dusk in the Peruvian Amazon, I’m sprinting, chasing a flapping sphere across a muddy pitch swagged in tight by sweaty rainforest. I pass and trap among men who grew up in huts hunting monkeys and now work for oil companies. Real Madrid Jerseys. Machetes on the ground. We kick and trap, pass and cross, the corner kick’s topspin an unrehearsed path. The scuff and scrap ball is bouncing among bodies, is wondering why we don’t kick more cleanly, why we don’t notice the air hissing out by gasping millimeters; even as it slides and bumps threadbare, this glorious wobble that stitches together the whole operation is wondering why it gets less attention than the Jaguar tracks downtrail, or the new Reggaeton single we all sing, “son Tus Movimientos.” Downriver, the Mascho-Piro tribe knows nothing of metal tools. A lowly schoolteacher, I know nothing of children or savings after decades spent obsessed with travel, conniving grants and tickets, hitching rides, missing weddings and drifting away from friends. As I run backwards on an earth spinning forwards toward a ball rolling sideways, the revolutions gather in my pulse, thumping. Across the lumpy field, the booted ball launches, curling wide of the goal, rising toward the sun’s vapored fading. Following, I wonder if I’m leaving or returning home. Offsides or on.
Ian Ramsey is a longtime music educator and musician who was drawn to poetry through music. His poetry has appeared in Orion, Ploughshares, and Terrain.org. In addition to teaching music, he is also an environmental educator, climate activist and wilderness athlete. His website is ianramsey.net.