I admit that I watch wrestling for mistakes, moments
when their timing’s off, when someone lands with limbs
awkwardly splayed and has to scramble, the way a ref
will keep his back to camera when he asks a guy
if he’s okay, face turned away in case the answer’s no.
I look for limps, black eyes and gritted teeth, bulky knee
and elbow wraps they didn’t need last week. I worry
when guys drop off the card or lose You’re fired
matches. I hope they went home to heal or hang out
with their kids, hope they aren’t really getting fired,
getting into alcohol and drugs. And when it comes
to who’s on top, who wins the belt at pay-per-views
I never buy, I know that too is influenced by factors
I don’t see: who needs surgery or extra push, has a contract
to renew or won’t forgive if promises aren’t kept.
But no matter what I know about what’s happening backstage,
all the ways I’m being tricked so I’ll be entertained,
once the show begins I always get sucked in—hold my breath
or yell at my TV, feel muscles surge and jerk in sympathy.
Every match has something I can map onto my life:
the boss who doesn’t see how much I’m worth,
false friends pursuing their own gain, the grind of showing up
to work when I feel tired, sick and sore, hoping my fans
will show up, too, notice how hard I fight before I lose.
There’s no room for theory in the ring, no time for my mind
to parse what my heart in an instant understands.
When I’m watching it, wrestling feels real because it is.