The Art of Shooting in the Dark

after Pedro Pietri

We were      nocturnal players, 

Bats in ball,      & ever since Don Pedro said 

There are Puerto Ricans      on the moon 

The night is      my cousin      & the clustered stars 

My cousin      & Saturn’s little ring of smoke      my second cousin 

Though not the same ring      as a freshly snapped Medalla bottle      which

My abuelo      also named Pedro      apparently liked too much 

But back to the moon      the first rock      dollop of sugar  

& slinging hoop in the dark      which we learned was a game

      of approximation

Less math      more muscle memory      less Mozart      more Machito 

Like descarga      more riff      more wrist. 

We set our eyes      on not seeing      but feeling a thing through, indeed

From elbow to hip      wherever the orange lip might lead


Copyright © 2022 by Denice Frohman. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 6, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is part of a series of basketball sonnets I’ve been working on. Growing up a hooper, what began as a recollection of a childhood memory became a meditation on Diasporican identity and embodied knowledge. I wanted to evoke a sense of possibility against a historical backdrop of uncertainty. A few summers ago at a writing residency, I started to think of the sonnet as a basketball court—the last two lines of the Shakespearean sonnet as the final two steps of a layup. The game has taught me so much about the geography of my own body and how to find meaning even in the most fragmented, ambiguous spaces.”
Denice Frohman