Saturday 18 June 2022

'Basketball Girls' by Lauren Voeltz

 Dedicated to the Missing Indigenous

A basketball court; our teenage girls shooting hoops.

A basketball game, the state finals.

Drills and warm-up; they’re missing a player.

They play for her, they play with heart, people say they soar, like eagles, feet barely on the ground.

They play for the girl, missing since last year. Brown braid, almond eyes displayed on posters around town.

Her dad is here; he sees the team as daughters; he's never given up—not once, never given up on any of them.

The game starts, goes on, then turns neck and neck, barrels into overtime.

Boo-birds flock in the crowd: the other team’s supporters complaining in the bleachers. The missing girls' friends, family, and teachers cheer when their girls tie up the game.

Ball bouncing, our star player steals, sprints, dribbles down court, and no one stops her-–there’s hoots and hollers, feet stomping the stands. She shoots a three-pointer that could win the game.

For a moment, a collective exhale.

I think we all imagine our girl flying through the air. Remember then—there’s something more important than winning, something we’re all wishing, longing, aching for.

The buzzer sounds and the game ends. We're all flooding onto the court, spilling from the stands. It's deafeningly loud. The girls lift a picture, surf it over their outstretched palms. It's a photo of the missing girl.

When they pose with their plaque, they hold her picture out, front and center.

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