This poem came from the December 4, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from Dreamwidth user elliemurasaki. It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. This poem belongs to the series Fledgling Grace, which you can explore further via the Serial Poetry page. You can read more about basketball online.
The wings made a difference.
Even without the power of flight,
it could not be denied that
the wings made a difference
in playing basketball:
they affected the balance of players running,
greatly enhanced the ability to block,
and a hard flap could grant an extra second of hang time.
The swish of the net became more common
as it became less of a challenge
to leap higher into the air
and stay there longer.
The NBA first tried
banning players with wings,
but as the Fledging progressed,
they had to readmit those or give up the game.
So then they tried
sending players onto the court
with their wings harnessed out of the way.
The audience booed.
They didn't like the look,
and the players tended to stumble.
the NBA began to explore
alterations to the rules and play
of the game itself, trying to decipher
what might restore balance.
They lengthened shooting distances,
repainted the guidelines on the floor, and
loosened the traveling rules for blocked players.
What really did the trick, though,
was the invention of the mobile basket.
Suddenly getting that swish
was a challenge again,
even with wings.
Watching basketball became satisfying once more,
and the crowds gave cheers instead of boos.
If they wished, secretly to themselves,
that the wings could give true flight,
well, you can't have everything.
In an empty gymnasium,
Michael Jordan smiled a secret smile,
spread the emerald pinions of his parrot wings,
lofted himself gently into the air, and ...