The Wide Receiver Declares Himself Ready

By Lytton Smith

“Go long,” you say, “get open,” though you mean
Why don’t you tie your sorrows to your saddlebow

and ride singing forth?—and so I set off, gone beyond
the last bus stop, its shelter idling, and continue

past the moon landing staged in a barn
the government has blacked out and starred

with phosphor. I keep going, past the last whalers,
sea-town inns, and verge-of-the-afterlife churches

clergied by sailors the ocean spewed back, I reach
the harbor where townsmen jettison the cargo

of tea leaves, I travel waters where the Armada lies
foundered from cannon breach and scupper. I go

past Chaucer’s company returning, their contest forgotten
as the inn approaches. I go past the 15-foot walls

of the Tower of London, to the battle at Hastings
where the Normans give ground yard by grudging yard

in an illusion of flight that becomes rally and charge,
and here “Go long, get open” is good for “Stand firm,”

for “To the death,” and when I call “Let fly,” you do,
arrow or pigskin lost in the sun, and I’m waiting

and waiting, and you wouldn’t believe the far I’ve gone.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/08/the-wide-receiver-declares-himself-ready/306044/