SPORT *

I am buying my daughter softball cleats
that clatter like tap shoes, and a bat and mitt,
which she will slip under her pillow at night
in order to break in its folded hand.

Every morning begins with a dream she tells me about.
There is green grass, trimmed each week, sun-lit,
the diamond raked until an even cloud of dust
will rise up almost supernaturally.

Home plate will be swept by the gray-clad umpire
with a wispy brush he takes from his tight back pocket.
She will string her blonde ponytail through the visor’s back.
She will catch a piece of even the fastest pitch.

The man in front of us is buying boxes of bullets
that he takes out of the basket one by one,
as if they are as delicate as egg cartons.
He opens one to check the unbroken gleam of the shells.

My daughter asks for a pack of pink gum.
He stacks up the boxes, counting them
with his thick, trigger-pulling finger.
Later, as my daughter and I play catch,

the smack of the ball on our gloves
is as steady as a round of gunfire.
She blows a magnificent pink bubble
out of her child mouth, into the late afternoon light.

Accepted