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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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The Ball Field                                                                                      

 

There was no better place to be than the burnt-red

circle of dirt and the grass of the outfield that bordered

the edge of the cemetery back of the church.

 

After the day-shift, the big boys and the men

brought their girls and wives and pointed the blunt

noses of their cars toward the white-lighted field.

 

Like lovers at the drive-in, they watched

the little boys play.

                                   

Here the dignity of exile lifted a boy’s rubber

cleats in soft and lonely rhythm to right field.

Eyes on the pitcher, he ran backward, as he should,

stopped and rocked on the balls of his feet,

hands on knees, and perused the infield.

 

He chattered to the pitcher, as he should.

 

The boy prayed that a ball, like an angel, would fly

over his head toward the church: he’d run, leap,

and receive it as it fell, like a white apple,

into the black pocket of his older brother’s old glove.

 

And when the big boys and men would honk their horns,

he'd tip his cap, modestly.

 

It was the script of a ballplayer’s code, taught

by his brother the shortstop

 

who tripped on the tracks in front of the train

running splendidly on the other side of the church

after the last game last fall.

 

                                              -Craig Bruce McVay