Basketball Tournament & Hard of Hearing

Basketball Tournament

What kind of day it is
most likely refers to the weather,
not this childish, excluded
feeling like when the youth group basketball
tournament left my name off
the roster and one of the fathers found me
crying in the parking lot and kindly saw
me added and the tournament, then,
canceled the way Mom never cancels a client
in an emergency even today
on Mariah’s birthday. How can I steam
the broccoli and bake the eggplant
and be with my boy at the same time
when he’s unstoppably elsewhere
in the upstairs guest bedroom, standing
atop the vanity and slamming
the hinged mirror? You do what’s doable.
I peel the apple slices badly, taking
more meat than skin, cutting
corners, polygons of white foam. Outside,
I believe it is raining.

Hard of Hearing

I listen to his raspy breathing
quicken in the bedroom
dark before he breaks
into a cry and I feel certain
my not yet two-year-old
is having his first nightmare.

It’s 4: 27 when I rise and shuffle
by the light of my iPhone.
Reach a hand out of the dark
above his crib rail. He’s sitting bolt
upright, binkie out in his hand.

I secure the pacifier in his mouth,
lay my palm upon his back,
kneeling in the dark beside him.
I want to light up the passageways
in his brain that say I am loved,
it’s OK because my father loves me

and I think of Dad who never
had that, whose mom was hard
of hearing and how hard
it has always been for him to receive love
or even reply to my emails.

Cameron Morse was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri–Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New LettersBridge EightPortland Review and South Dakota Review. His first poetry collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Terminal Destination (Spartan Press, 2019). He lives with his pregnant wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri, where he serves as poetry editor for Harbor Review. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.  

Photo Credit: Logan Tozzi, New Mexico Review Staff