A natural.
Our hometown’s prospect.
They said he showed real promise
and spoke of scholarships –
a boy in a man’s body,
a gifted athlete
batting .353 left-handed.
They said that he’d go pro:
big-league scouts attending games,
scribbling furious notes,
studying his impressive stats.
And then he busted up his knee …

I hadn’t seen him in, what,
twenty years,
and working in the hardware store –
a little jowly
but otherwise in good form.
We talked a bit of who and what
as if summer had never ended,
but I was in a hurry,
on a flying trip through town,
the place I’d left behind
he’d never left.
After a few more niceties
we shook hands and said so long.

I had a chance to think
about it all while on the freeway,
driving west toward the winter sun,
heading from one situation
into another.

It had been an accident,
bad luck for the two concerned;
I slid into second hard,
spikes up, caught him flush,
recall the nauseating crack,
the young gun’s dream I’d ended …
It had affected both of us
but in very different ways.