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How Baseball Becomes the Beginning of Longing
By Kelly Terwilliger

The hum of the crowd
is a warm pool, and you wade in happily,
the green field below as smooth as a freshly made bed,
and the sky fading peach into the cooling
air, the lights so bright, so white they trick the eyes
into seeing the whole world sepia, like an old movie
steeped in the color of nostalgia, the smells
of hot dogs and popcorn clinging to the very air
and somewhere inside, you can still hear the smack of the ball
you can feel the arc it makes over the stands and the boy next to you
so wanting to catch it he brought his tiny red mitt to the game
just in case, and he tells you again and again how it would be:
the ball, so hard, so fast it could hit him in the eye and blind him,
would come sailing right between the two of you, and he—he would snatch it
from the air as fast as anything, and it would be his! And how bare
and pointless the evening turns when he knows it is too late,
no ball will come his way tonight and you will go home
and he will be empty-handed and this was in fact
the worst baseball game ever and now he isn't even sure why
he wasted his time coming, and you climb
that hill with him, his head down, his sandals flapping and the air
clear and darkening all around you, carrying the moon on its breath
like a not-quite-ripe baseball, just out of reach.


KELLY TERWILLIGER, a poet, visual artist, and writer of children's books, lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband and two small boys. Her poems have appeared in journals such as The Malahat Review, Calyx, The Southern Poetry Review, and The Mid-America Poetry Review. She is a fan of both the Eugene Emeralds and the Eastside Elementary School Purple Eagles.

© 2003 Kelly Terwilliger


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