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Garlic i. Wimbledon Men’s Final, 1994 His winners were yours, the future flung off, flung off, flung off like the lines of rain from your balding Slazenger ball when it clipped each puddle you’d airbrushed from your mind. Yes, you were Nothingtown, Lincolnshire’s swarthy Yank, every diamond hole in the fence an imagined face – where this court gave over to weeds, here and there, until the asphalt is ruts, and runnels of weed, and that’s when you return, no scuffed racquet over your shoulder, and no one to plonk back your sliced backhands. It’s been – what? – twenty years since you were last here with nothing to show but the bluster you’d never felt. One dead net-post remains, its crank handle jammed with rust, the fattened threads shining freshly after you butt it with a palm. You can name the bindweed now, but don’t have to live with it. What else to do but know you needn’t have come, that it might repeat on you like garlic?

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