Sunday, March 31, 2013

Just Not Fast Enough

I tied a league ball in it,
roped it around twice with jute twine
after greasing the pocket with Vaseline,
and stuffed it in between
my mattress and box spring
each fall.

By spring, my Wilson A2020
“Nellie” Fox baseball glove
was primed for another season.

Through May and June,
the days rang with Hey, batter, batter.
Swing batter, swing!
I swung a Duke Snyder Adirondack,
but I was Louis Aparicio at the plate—
a singles hitter and fast—
a sure steal on the base paths.

In one game, the rain fouled up
my fifth stealing attempt,
as second base became a buoy.

The game was called,
and my father and I
navigated out of the bog
in his new ’64 Oldsmobile Starfire,
until he asked about my muddy spikes.

We torpedoed across traffic
and slid across shoals.
He popped open the trunk
and hurled my baseball spikes
high into the air.

I watched them descend—
the long, mucky laces twisting
in slow-motion, my mitt tied to them—
then hit the street with a dull splash.

I held my breath for an eternity;
as if dreaming, I dodged
the gloom of headlights
bearing down Dempster Street
with quick resolve
to swipe one last time,
‘til I watched the entire season
disappear suddenly beneath
a semi-trailer’s tires
five times. 

“Just Not Fast Enough” was originally published by Lake Shore Publishing.

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