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Poem Submission #21

Top of the Third

By: Nicole Borg

We picked out the glove and bat
and red-stitched ball from the Sporting Goods
department at K-Mart, you have me try on
the leather, righties wear lefties, and flex
through rigidness (which there are tricks for softening),
you examine aluminum bats, their heft and length,
girth of barrel, have me carefully swing
amid tennis rackets and dimpled
golf balls in shiny sleeves.

It is my birthday and you’ve come
from out of town, Dad, to teach me
baseball. The day is late-May perfect,
trees plump with leaves wearing
their darker shades of green like
looking into deep water or just deeply looking,
and the breeze, always present, kisses
my bare arms and my loose ponytail
swings, a metronome keeping the time
of this moment.

Infield you instruct me to get low,
stay behind the ball but don’t wait for it,
if it’s a dribbler come up and in the green-
purple that promises so much, our futures
diverge at the top of the inning like not just separate
series in bigger town’s ball diamonds but different
games altogether with their own equipment
and rules. Today, the scent of lilac and new
leather, dust kicked-up on a hop, the dirty knees
of my jeans, and the cr-ack of the bat breaking
the spring calm like lightning shuddering
then shattering that deep green that will submerge
then swallow us to be reborn in some future
where I leave behind bat and glove
and you leave behind
everything else.

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