Back at the dugout
I puckered my Gatorade-stained lips
through a diamond in the chain-link
fence when a nosy yellow jacket planted
a wet one on my syrupy mouth with its stinger.

Back then I dreamt of middle-school
girls and tiny hands holding me when
things got tough but those days
there was no one to kiss me on the field
except my mother, who brought ice
from the concession stand.

Four years later – once I realized baseball
wasn’t my thing – I got clocked in the face
at soccer practice and my bottom lip split
right in two, and yes there was blood.

The doctor said he’d never seen a tear
so jagged, but he stitched me up
pretty good (ten times to be exact)
good enough for the girl I really loved
to kiss me on couches in dark rooms
where she couldn’t see the scar
once the stitches dissolved.