A Tennis Debt

ASIDE: In 1939, my mother and father were dating prior to their marriage
in 1940. Frequently they would walk to a neighborhood park and play
tennis for hours. Below is a poem my mother (Marcile Gilleland) wrote
in 1939 about their tennis together.

To tennis I am indebted forever.
Tho’ you resisted, it brought me you.
At that game you were so very clever,
But I wanted you to notice me too.

You would serve me a pretty “ace”,
And blithely promise to “mow me down”,
As I thought of unruly hair in your face
And your tan of funny reddish brown.

How often I shouted “I hate you”
As balls whizzed by on either side.
You wouldn’t fall in love anew,
So I said “I hate you” and lied.

And, oh, the depths my heart did fall
When “love” meant only bad playing,
And you told me how to hit the ball,
Unconscious of what my heart was saying.

But tennis has brought you to me.
‘Twas at the court you first held my hand,
And holding hands our love came to be.
So it’s the finest game of the land!

Marcile Gilleland      late 1939