LOOKING AT THE LIGHTS
All wrestlers practice failing.
We need to know what to do when we’re getting cranked.
Inevitably, we will be on our backs.
Somebody will be tougher, somebody will be quicker, somebody
will be strong enough to knock us flat. It’s called looking at the lights,
as if when we’re horizontal and helpless, we’re also gazing at paradise.
All I know is it’s hot down there. It stinks.
The friction of your head rubbing against the mat could start a bonfire.
The guy who’s decking you is breathing in your ear,
a rush of panting grunts.
His sweat mixes with the skin on your throat and drips in your hair and
your girlfriend is watching from the bleachers as his muscles
glisten and you are buried.
Your teammates are groaning and urging you to keep fighting but secretly
they doubt you won’t surrender and the referee is cutting the air at
smaller and flatter angles to signal the shrinking breadth between the mat
and your shoulders and he poises to slap, he poises to slap and that is
why every day in practice we must drill and rehearse for failure.
It’s called bridging.
Make your neck a great spoon stirring the soup of your head.
Stir it left. Stir it right. Hold it. Hold it. Stir it left.
Hold it. Stir it right. Hold it. Hold it.
He will be a ten-ton slab trying to break you flat—
you must resist, your neck must insist no, with your neck no,
with your neck no, no, you must
train your neck to insist NO.
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