The Hassid and the Tennis Racket

by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

Outside looking in, his hands on the wire fence,
he stood sallow and sweaty in the hot sun,
dressed in black coat and hat watching me
practicing my pathetic serve,
stabbing at the ball with fly swatter frenzy,
willing it to land in the box with any kind of consistency.
Between tosses, I watched him watching me
through rimless glasses, his blue eyes searching
for some reason for my solitary ritual.
For ten minutes I struggled with my swing.
For ten minutes he did not move a muscle.
His silence screamed at me until, exasperated
I walked over to him and asked, “Do you play?”
He seemed puzzled by my question,
started to answer, but then stopped in mid-word,
and wistfully, I thought, shook his head no,
as if he had finally decided to fall on the side
of the ethereal, instead of the temporal.
At his hesitation, I wish I had had another racket
to invite him to play, to deconstruct the fence
between his universe and mine.

The author of twelve books for young adults, Mel Glenn has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years.  Lately, he’s been writing poetry, and you can find his most recent poems in a new YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy,  edited by M. Jerry Weiss.


Filed under American Jewry, Jewish identity

2 responses to “The Hassid and the Tennis Racket

  1. Chuck Nash

    Hey, I loved “Hassid and the Tennis Racket!” You write so smoothly and apparently effortlessly (surely the sign of an accomplished writer).

  2. murray


    1st, i just loved the tone and pace of this piece. it’s at peace with you, him and the park setting. I can see it clearly. Great images: his 10 minutes, yours. so simple,what a fence, what a divide.and i just loved “stabbing at the ball with fly swatter frenzy”. thanks murray.

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