Even if she's wearing a skirt.
She plays, and she'll grab her friends – her best girlfriends –
and they play even though they always lose.
"The teams are UNEVEN," she tells me.
"There are NEVER enough girls.
We ALWAYS play UPHILL, with the SUN in our EYES.
They call us NAMES if we score."
I want to call the principal, teachers, parents.
Instead I ask: "Not ALL the boys. Right?
Because your DADDY would never be that way.
Your COUSINS would never be that way.
Their MOMMAS raised them RIGHT."
"Not all the boys," she admitted.
"Some of them will play with US when our team is too small."
"Remember their names," I say.
"Don't forget THOSE boys. Okay?"
She promises she won't, and I'm glad,
because THOSE boys will be welcome in my house
a handful of years from now
when THOSE boys become more
on the field.
And then came the day when
THIS girl and her friends
convinced the other team to let them
play for ONCE
with the sun at their backs.
"We almost tied," she told me, "but they wanted
to QUIT before we could do it."
They've pushed her down.
She comes home with bruises.
She won't cry in front of them.
What can I do?
She plays every day regardless.
And I admire her for it.