By Tom Meschery

In Africa each morning practice starts

with warm-ups. The youngest on the team,

perhaps sixteen, always waiting for me,

sits in the thin shade below the backboard,

reading the latest article about Hakeem.

We stretch ham-strings, then slow jog

around the court. He keeps pace. All the while

talking about The Dream. “Dis donc,” he says

“With the Dream we would defeat Senegal

and be champions of West Africa.

Que Pense, toi, entraineur?” What do I think?

I can’t, about anything more than the red

and smoky sun rising over the opposite basket,

the heat already sweating my shirt, and how

the rains suddenly begin half way through practice.

I shag his jump shots, the ones he swears

are like Hakeem’s. He says he will also attend

the University of Houston, later play for the NBA

“Vous m’assistez?” But his shots are ugly, too flat;

they lack the back-spin, the softness of the Dream’s.

I nod my head, whatever I can do, my best shot.

I am in the country of Burkina Fasso.

Its name means land of up-right people.

    

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