Maybe I was in love with
my only childhood.
Maybe I loved it more than my own
children’s childhoods.
Maybe that was why
I kept trying to give it to them
when they were growing up themselves.
Maybe I loved my children more
as children than I love them as adults.
Maybe that’s unforgivable and maybe
it’s untrue. What’s true is the love
I still feel for that little kid,
the one playing center field
in the Little League game that was lost
because he misjudged a high pop or two,
and was too ashamed at the end of the inning
to go back to the dugout
and face his teammates,
so he hopped the home run fence
and walked all the way home and didn’t
look back. Maybe I can’t stop looking back
at that little kid walking home
with his baseball mitt still on
like a grotesquely swollen left hand,
an affliction, an inoperable growth
I never outgrew, the tears that dried a lifetime ago
welling up anew at the drop
of a hat, a ball, a diminutive name or two
for the children I knew when they were children.