FINAL FLIGHT *

Twas the bottom of the ninth, two outs, bases jammed,
The crowd, on its feet, shoulder to shoulder was crammed.
The home team down by three, but each player knew that
The game’s final score would hinge on this one at-bat.

The catcher in his crouch, the coaches on base lines,
Each issued a quick, silent, semaphore of signs.
The scene was now set.  As each runner took his lead,
The pitcher from his stretch then threw me at great speed.

In but a half-second, I arrived at home plate,
But the batter was ready; his swing was not late.
There was quite a loud “CRACK” as my horsehide met bat,
My last flight of the day; I was certain of that.

Runners dashed as I rose between first and second,
My flight just begun: higher altitudes beckoned.
Most fielders knew that there was nothing to be done;
They just stood frozen – with the exception of one.

Both teams in their chosen uniforms of the day,
Bright sun, blue sky, patterns in the grass trimmed that day,
The colors of seats and clothing in the ball park,
All this I could see as I rose in a high arc.

At the midpoint of flight, with all energy spent,
Time indeed did stand still; I now knew what that meant.
I had just a moment to perform the right math
And thus predict the remainder of my flight path.

I then focused on just where I would be landing:
First row, right field grandstand, fans already standing.
One fan awaited, glove and I to be merging,
While the right fielder with us both was converging.

Further and faster I fell. The crowd’s roar increased.
Until, near the end of my flight, all noise just ceased.
In rapt concentration, the crowd’s breath suspended,
As now there was not one but two gloves extended.

I closed my eyes not knowing which glove I would meet.
One would rise in victory, one drop in defeat.
Then, as I lay shrouded in my leather surround,
I heard the crowd erupt in a great wave of sound.

Until that glove opens after my final ride,
I’ll know not the outcome; I’ll leave you to decide:
Was my seven-second flight from that mighty clout
A game-winning grand slam, or, instead, the last out?