Paul Marion: A Poem

Catching Perfect Spirals

Trees change at night to yellow, orange, brown.

On warm afternoons my friends and I, boys and girls,

Raced downfield to catch every perfect spiral.

We tackled each other as if trying to hurt one another

When all we wanted was to be good at what we knew.

Red-gold leaves circled us. Our jeans got stained green.

We flung ourselves into the test, trying to prove our worth—

Each one measured against the other, but all stacked up

Against the worst the world could toss at us.

It’s not enough to say it was a game in a farmer’s field.

It was about order and chaos, playing by rules,

Teaming up to do a job, using strength and brains.

To call it joy makes it sound a little fancy,

But I still see shining faces and hear voices exploding

In the open air each time something went right.

We ran as if our lives depended on it, and who can say they haven’t?

The moves I learned back then still drive me through the day.


—Paul Marion (c) 1993, 2020

2 Responses to Paul Marion: A Poem

  1. David Daniel says:

    Another small gem of a poem by Lowell’s poet laureate (erstwhile & forever)–full of color, memory, longing, wisdom–and the ineffable truths that arise from art:

    “It was about order and chaos, playing by rules,/Teaming up to do a job, using strength and brains …”

    That sits right in this American nick of time.