What could we do with victory but what she has done? -- an ode to Maya Moore
For Maya Moore
Is there a better way to bless a body built by God
than to break it free from the single rib it sparked from
and give it wings? Hasn't she made us believe
what could happen If you surrender to the air?
That you could ride it?
We have faith in the wrist bone's connected
to the hand bone, and the hip bone's connected
to the thigh bone. What is the truth of a body
shaped from six feet of lightning strike?
What do we know about grace in the body?
Part amazing. Part thunder of mustangs and muscle
across the battlefields of concrete,
of hardwood, of love.
Who knows defeat more intimately than its champion,
its humble deliverer who sets the feast on the table,
a copper apple in an animal's mouth,
for the guests to eat and be filled on?
What could we do with victory but what she
has already done--build a temple of it
and bring us to our knees within it hymning,
I've got the victory, the sweet, sweet victory?
Yet there is no victory that is not also half surrender.
Who told you it is easy to drive the chariot
holding a ball of orange moonlight in one hand,
the shadowy weight of the reins in the other?
Did someone tell you it isn't divine work and toil
to make it rain night after night, jumper after layup
after jumper, after jumper, after?
Herakles was not the only one who labored
to escape the labyrinth of the mind, to slay
its minotaur of doubt. Yes,
the construction of confidence is also an art.
How else to honor her mother hammering a hoop
above the door, than to take The Game like a breath
into her body and be changed by it? Breathe it out,
and let it go as something more beautiful--
as war cry, as gospel, as life.
How else is the body meant to move
if not like how it moved when it first became itself
in paradise--like joy? Like her?
When she moves in a rush over what cannot stop her--
like a river--and changes even the stone,
even the rock, then shouldn't we say,
She moves like water?
Can anyone love The Game? Better than she has?
And if you should ever have the luck to run out
from a tunnel into the coliseum with number 23
as the armor of your heart, what would you fear?
Because behind that number, 23, she has built a house
of triumph and humility from the hustle and sweat
of her body. How long could you dwell
in that house of champions? As she has--
Forty minutes? Ninety games?
For a season? Forever?
Natalie Diaz is the author of When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). She played Division I basketball at Old Dominion University, where she reached the final four her freshman year, and professionally in Europe and Asia. Diaz currently teaches at Arizona State University.