Baseball is the purest sport, meaning
ballparks out in the heartland, mixing
fork balls and slurves, tapping
slow choppers in a spring rain.
Winter locked us out, covering
the infield in aphasic snow, leaving
the bases sticking out like square tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the left field fence
like a shower of beer; we stopped in the entry tunnel,
and walked out in sunlight, into the bleachers,
and drank slowly, and studied the lineups.
“Batting third and playing right field, Ike Deutsch.”
And when we were children, over at the neighbors’,
my friend swung and accidentally hit me in the head.
And he was frightened. He said, Mary,
are you all right? And down I went
as if my head were a mountain, my body the sea.
I bled much of the night, and went home in the morning.
What are the hits that matter, what logic of numbers
rises from this dusty diamond? Listen, man,
you cannot say for sure whether it’s ball or strike
when the catcher’s in the way, and the bat swings,
and the full house is yelling, the temperature over 100,
and the corners of home plate obscured. Only
there is intelligence behind this steel mask,
(look into the eyes behind this steel mask),
and you can see something different from either
the pitcher’s face leaning forward to read the signs
or the seams of the ball as it breaks away from you.
Step out of the box and pick up a handful of dust.