The Sweet Science

Ron Cooper

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For three rounds she
Winced with each smack of jab to jaw,
Gasped when hook found rib,
Slid down in her seat when one fell to canvas.
“I don’t want to see anyone hurt,” she said.
But the challenger stood for eight,
And she sat up for the recovery.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have brought you,” I said
When the fourth round started.
She rallied, then rooted
For the challenger.
“You should call your wife now,” she said.

At the payphone, between rings,
I recalled pulling for Frazier in ’71,
Against Ali, whom I thought a traitor,
But later came to love,
The way we love a familiar pain.

No answer.
I returned, and she was cheering,
Joyous at the connections, the glances.
“The kid’s got heart,” she said,
“Think he can go the distance?”
Caught up in the risk of bruising,
No thought of serious injury.
Then the champ came back,
Worked his way out of the corner,
His experience too much for the upstart,
Redeeming his early round overconfidences.

“Go to the body,” I yelled,
“Break his goddamn heart.

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Page  Fifteen

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