(On the 1991 U.S. Open)

Here’s to a champion
who slipped unseeded into the arena,
into his old house,

plucked a gutsy-strung racquet
and lobbed our spirits skyward
with the citrus colored balls;

dueling by sweat-drenching day,
dueling beneath the lights
against ranked green youth:

those heart-stopping rallies,
games that were matches in themselves,
your finger saying, yea, one more time;

until the penultimate test
when the gods of summer no longer
could grant you the gift of victory.

Had you prevailed, the markets,
shaky in turbulent times,
would have fallen and reason foundered.

Ah, but in packing your bags,
gracious, who knows, for another run,
you took home the glory and our praise.

From Selected Poems 1967 -2007
by Hudson Owen. All Rights Reserved.

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