In a stadium of face-painted fans, some tearful and shirtless,
others with a Peruvian flag tied around their necks
like a cape, I looked to you, father. Your tattered cap
and decade-old jersey rested on your person.
On the dusty stands, I noticed your over-the-shoulder eyes.
The players pirouetted on the grassy pitch: midfielders maneuvered
around slide-tackling defenders, and passed to their sprinting striker,
as rows of attendees stood and stomped, but I still saw your tilt—
your waning smile—your unmet nod in my periphery.
Headers shelled a goalkeeper’s hands. Volleys ricocheted off the goalposts.
A home-team player blasted a bending ball, a screamer, a golazo
into the back of the net; your arms waved in the confetti-speckled air,
but you didn’t celebrate, no, you motioned over a snack-stocked vendor,
and asked if I was hungry. I held a pouch of churros,
as we clinked our plastic cups of chicha morada.
The referee blew a whistle for halftime, and I remembered our history
of loudmouthed conversations and one-armed hugs,
of quiet rides in the car and unmoved bikes
until you looked at me, the way parents look at newborns.
On the overgrown field of our years, we’ll lace our muddy boots—
not as rivals but as teammates—to play friendlies.
George Espinoza is an undergraduate student who resides on Long Island, New York. His work can be found in Hot Pot Magazine, DED Poetry, and Moot Point Magazine. You can find him on Instagram: @george123za