Two Poems for Spring and Spring Training
For the Blues
A trail worn at the corner
where the street and dyke meet
leads down to a little league field.
Willows shade the players as they play.
As if the balls were lead or sodden,
the shadows splash both pitchers
in the heat of their brash bravado.
Both teams scream at and taunt
the batter. The informing fragility
of each cold and nervous universe
of flesh magnifies the action
in the childrens’ smallness.I remember
the same dread from days in gym class.
Spheres then were serious business.
But now I sit on the dyke, high above
the game. From here and at this age
I notice the lines more, the chalk
and fences. I’m more interested.
in the umpires, why they volunteer
their time and patience to keep
the music of the spheres alive.
One batter rips a pitch in his eyes
out to center field, where Bobby,
(whose name is called by all the Blues,
and all of the Blues’ boosters),
obstructs his vision with his glove,
reaches up, sees his guts spill
out on the grass with the bounding ball.
At least in the presence of adults,
his teammates are nice about it.
“Next time, Bobby, you can do it.”
He shakes his head as if he only
half believes them. Right about now,
he’d rather dig a hole in the ground
than stand there and look dumb.
I stand up and brush myself off.
It’s time to get on with my walk.
But next time, Bobby, something
comes your way; you’ll laugh about
the ball you dropped, or you’ll read
this poem someday. You’ll smile,
and field the lines cleanly.
I see them from a long way off,
spread out in the v of their pristine
flight formation. They’re Canadian
honkers, not mallards. I’m sitting
at the top of the right field bleachers
where I can take everything in,
the box of the fenced-in game,
and beyond, the dyke, the river,
the parking lot, the care-worn houses,
when over the left-field fence,
at a tangent to the stadium
come the geese riding the wind.
The geese sweep everything clean.
Their feather-filters siphon the sky.
Dirty things while on the ground,
the last of Dickens’ urchins as they
waddle and cry aloud, how they
redeem their lives when they lift
from the ground! And now their level
coasting towards me trims my cynicism:
they fly ten feet above my head, their dark
eyes gain purple as they near, I can see
the two feet they keep between each other.
How do they know who leads? How do I?
It’s the power of suggestion I suppose.
One takes off and the others follow,
spreading themselves apart for aerodynamic
reasons. I tun and watch the geese land
flapping by the river. The other fans sit
under the roof, or have their eyes entirely
on the game. Why don’t I? This is the way
it should be, or the difference levels off–
I mean, the game on the field, for instance,
would be hard to play if all nine men stood
on the same spot. They spread out to cover
the possibilities, a bouncing grounder, a long fly.