LINING-OFF THE FIELD

My father handed me the flags and paid
out string from where he stood
at home, waving me deeper, waving me right
or left, “More left. A little less. Yes.
Good.” Then with the string held high,
a wind-rolled arc
between us, I ran hard across
the outfield and we set the Left-field flag.

Suppose the string were one thread of a sail;
the way it would belly, filling
with assurance. Say that where he stood on it
it entered the ground
so if I pulled I’d pull forever, all of it —
the whole ball — one unbroken strand.
Or say I doubled back
to a snag in crabgrass or a patch of dandelion
too late and saw my father
chasing the end that got away from him.

Suppose the lines go on beyond the flags,
embracing houses, trees,
so many men and women, strangers
turning into friends or enemies, so many lovers,
towns, forests, lakes, rivers, stories
told and heard, forgotten or remembered,
understood or not. suppose the lines go on
because they do; imaginary, real.

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