The Invention of Tennis

Summer, 2006 / No. 16

Estonian cheeks soak-in the “DUTCH DREAMS


sign says,

As we sit on caged stones,

Knee-highs and ball ankles,

And two death-by-chocolate cones,

Looking to each other

through brown



Bucktoothed video artists

approach on


Snap in mid-sentence,

Leave with smug smiles,

And brother, tennis came on like a trick,

Like the way I knew to shoo

bees from

your back

Without ever knowing.

And brother,

our mother,

Didn’t have those same laughing Japanese eyes

that you wear,

And stare with like searchlights shooting out,

like tennis balls,

On the court where we bounce,

like we walk

(With cellphones calling up dads, limbs flailing),

like we point,

With those same rackets,

At the woman dressed all in brown.

We are assholes, real jerks,

and bastards.

That same woman carries a plastic bag,

Which sags and then tears,

And brown liquid drizzles out in shaky circles behind her,

And brother, we follow her trail,

Our feet careful not to wander from the moving line

That she creates,

Like the “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DARLING” on a chocolate cake.

And between the lines it turns into a charm,

We swing at worn tennis balls,

The way your mouth looks like a red apple

When you say that red apples will cure me

from the M.S.G.,



And the twenty-foot weeds

Meant to grow like trees,

Meant to discourage moths,

And after seven years just drop,

Like how at night, we drop our rackets

To swat the ball with bare hands,

We play on glassy courts, like bathtubs,

calling interference,

calling crazy bounce.

And brother, these are mother’s eyeglasses I wear,

And her red rain boots and pink terry cloth one-piece,

While you’ve got your dad’s

tennis sweater tied around your neck,

then waist,

And soon you’ve got your head into it.

Because brother, it’s getting chilly, and the trees

are turning,

And our arms keep turning,

And I keep serving the ball

out of bounds,

And the more I watch you hustle

The more I’m turning,

Into our same mother,

And the more this tennis is turning into a sport.

Amy Gaizauskas lives in Dufferin Grove. She attends York University. Her first published poem appeared in the summer, 2006, issue of Taddle Creek. Last updated summer, 2006.