You can’t get them to chase a Texas Leaguer,
a cheap flare that drops like a duck
on to the lip of green outfield,
yet they are compelled by The Diamond.
The walls, like our lives, are irregular,
yet in form, how perfect.

There is no scoreboard.

They oil their gloves all winter.
Each spring they cover the hole,
gracefully turn the double play,
above the sliding runner,
plant and throw, mid-air.

 

They embrace the pick-off,
the ball released to an empty bag.
They have answered the knuckleball’s koan.

 

No one can play the squeeze like them.
Grace under pressure,
they come flapping
down the third base line,
laughing wildly,
spikes high.

 

The manager tries to position them
in the field, yells from the dugout.
He flashes signs, waves his arms until they ache,
but the Patriarchs are picking daises out there,
caps settled uneasily on bald heads.
At least one appears to be drunk.

 © Anthony Saint James\Photodisc\Picturequest
© Anthony Saint James\Photodisc\Picturequest

But they rub their bats with bone,
push the limits of pine tar,
crowd the batter’s box,
hug the plate,
give up nothing.
Don’t ask them to sacrifice.
Sixty feet, six inches.
The ball can do anything,
the bat seeking the hypothetical space
where intersection takes place,
where emptiness will become form.

 

There are poems on all the bags,
sake in the dugout cooler,
and taped to the wall is a mandala:
“Hit ’em where they ain’t.”

Temple
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