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Joseph Mills


My friend's kid runs the sideline, gets a pass,
turns, and scores with a kick to the near post.

It's how the play should go, but at this age
rarely does.  My son sprints to him, arms up.

They high five and celebrate a moment,
then turn to jog back to their positions.

Last year, they would have hopped around madly,
twirled, fallen backwards, and rolled in the grass.

This season, they are serious.  No more
skipping.  No more acting sweetly goofy.

Now, they turn towards one another rather
than towards us.  No more checking that we've seen.

But we have.  We know the score, and what's lost
as they try to turn themselves into men.

From This Miraculous Turning (Press 53, 2014).
Used with the author's permission.



Joseph Mills is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he holds the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities. Joe’s published work includes six volumes of poetry, and four nonfiction books. He also writes a column called “String Figures” for ChangeSeven Magazine in which he details his thoughts about trying to learn piano in middle-age. Learn more about Joe at


Post New Comment:
He paints a critical change well.
Posted 09/26/2015 01:31 PM
Love this. Joseph Mills is always great!!
Posted 09/26/2015 12:07 PM
Janet Leahy:
This poem moves so well through the passage of time, touching something dear to our hearts.
Posted 09/26/2015 10:15 AM
I love this one.
Posted 09/26/2015 09:19 AM
Linda W. Owen:
Wonderful poem! As a mother and grandmother, I so appreciate this. Great play on the word 'turning' here. Perfect last stanza.
Posted 09/26/2015 09:16 AM
Shoshauna Shy:
Enjoyed starting my day with this poem, having watched my son play soccer from the time he was six years old. Just saw him in a game this summer at age 30...."Turning" brings back the very beginnings...
Posted 09/26/2015 08:13 AM
I loved "sweetly goofy^....great poem...
Posted 09/26/2015 02:35 AM

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