He had a wondrous rookie season, high average in the spring,
Buzz about him in the hometown publications, hot-shot of the month
in April, played a strong defense and almost made it to the All-Star game.
He finished at .280, then had a no-jinx sophomore year that
Foretold his consistency through the next few years, but then
A major muscle injury limited his action on the field, and he faded
Into the no-tool lesser player that he was never meant to be.
Now he’s retired, still in his early thirties, made some good investments
But never really planned what he would do, where he would go
When the joyride ended. He just wakes up each day — they are
All the same — looks around, at his brown furniture and bare green walls,
Thinks of the missing teammates, the non-existent guidance
From his coaches, the phantom dugout and locker room, with
nothing much to do, no cheering crowds, autograph seekers or
TV interviewers, and he shakes his head and wonders whether Life,
Which blessed him once, would kiss his forehead and
Hold him close again . . . ever again.
It’s hard when the highlight reels are gone, and the name is barely spoken
And the glove and bat lie in the back of a dark closet, engulfed in cobwebs.
Is it better never to have climbed Mount Everest than to have reached
The upmost peak too soon? It is then a dreary journey to the base
When there’s so much of daylight left and people speak of you —
When they happen to — only in the past tense, only as an afterthought.