The rest of the regular foursome are dead
and they trail along above him in the mist.
He cheats now that they are gone:
doesn’t count the misses, the dribblers;
gives himself the long putts;
tees his ball in the fairway.

They don’t care anymore,
they are all good sports now.
He plays on without them
alone in the bitter cold,
stiff and barely able to swing, as if
things depended on him somehow.

Besides, it’s not so bad the others are dead.
They beat him regularly and teased him,
took his money week after week.
Now he whacks stiffly from sand to trees to water,
gives himself a 20-footer
and when he scores it 4
the mist above his head leaps
and dances in the sunlight.

Stroke by stroke he buys time from death,
freezes as if it kept his friends from hell,
and cheats death just a little
for all of us
as he picks his ball up,
walks 50 yards
and tees it up again.