Coach put it like this: We’re giving you
your release. As though dashing your dreams

was a gift. You accepted it, on some level:
twenty-three was too old to play single-A.

Maybe he did you a favor ending
the minor league grind: no more

pre-game PB&Js; never wearing
a jersey again; your last eight-hour

bus ride to Vermont. You could pack
your stuff as calmly as if you’d return

tomorrow. Your former friends
could pay their respects. That’s bullshit.

Half the guys here could’ve gone
just as easily – me included, they’d laugh,

marking the exact moment that the game forgot you
existed. They could have the luxury to say:

Hey, kid, stay in touch. And you could respond:
For sure, man. I’ll come back and watch a game.

But you’d realize you might not have ten
bucks for a ticket. This game would take your youth and

you wouldn’t realize it until now: you have no degree
or experience other than scooping pearls from the dirt.

You will never get used to the discovery
that everything you thought you knew

about yourself is wrong. That you’re no
longer allowed to do the only thing

that exists – the only thing you’ve ever
known. And on an airplane, somewhere

between Aberdeen and home, you share
the truth with yourself: you are a loser.

And then, finally – mercifully
– life could begin again.