In the shadows that come with the end of a day my wife
and I play a game of catch: the arch of the ball, the pop
sound of the leather gloves. She asks, “Do I throw like a girl?”
Nothing I say can replace my pause, but I admire her.
I played right field in high school. The field
was easy, almost peaceful, a frozen pond in the woods
before the skaters arrive. During games on those epic
spring afternoons I would yank my cap down tight, almost
covering my eyes. No one knew where I was looking, and from
my position I would steal glimpses of the girls in the bleachers
between pitches. Their giggles making me lonely.
One game I was batting against the local legend. His pitches
were hawks that dove down on field mice,
wings and talons obscured by the rays of the sun.
That hardball seemed to explode out his shoulder
and aim right for my thigh. Then it would steer itself
over the plate. I’d forget to breathe. I was shocked
into not swinging. This was my secret terror.
I marveled at his ability to deceive
my game, my bat, my desire.
He just smiled at me. He was my age, but there on the field
he knew me better then I knew me. I wasn’t swinging,
the bat was made of iron, welded to my shoulder, almost crippling me.
He could have thrown five feet in
front of me, and I still would have felt victimized.
In front of the sunset, my wife catches the ball.
She almost glides it out of her mitt, throws
it back, and part of me wants to duck away.