but I thought he was tall enough
to take a slingshot to the sun if
it was too hot. That didn’t begin
to explain the blooming sweat spots
in the pits of his short-sleeved shirts
that moored paisley ties and pen clips.
My father could shoot down anything--
the stars, the sky, the whole Mason-Dixon
line with his Willy Loman Ball mason jar
in Grandmother’s backyard, seeking solace
in arguments about Gubner George Wallace
and upping the Blue Book value of school
busing for his audience under that pin oak.
He turned down a Miata deal, bought Renault,
and went broke. He bought Kaiser aluminum
cars made in Chile and Li’l Abner amusement
parks. But to the end of his salesman’s days
he remembered the hot haze of an Alabama
September night, not the inquisitions into
his business decisions. He remembers the gasped
derision of his peers that one time, that one time
with the pass blooming into a clear interception
that he batted down instead. He argued it out
for 40 years with himself, replaying his blown shot,
hearing the jeers at this lost chance, the whole field
his for a quick catch and a sauntering prance. This
looming regret in the air made him
taller than he was.
Pamela Sumners is a constitutional and civil rights lawyer from Alabama. Her special interest in religion cases has given her an unwholesome familiarity with the hairlines of Judge Roy Moore, Bill Pryor, Jay Sekulow, and Alabama governors who dispute that the Bill of Rights applies to Alabama. She now lives in St. Louis with her wife, their son, and three rescue hounds who think eyeglasses are a food group.