– for Bryan

I’m a little surprised when the ticket taker admits me so early
but someone has to be first and someone will be last to leave
this old ballpark after the final out–maybe me. They’re tearing
it down next month, but they did do some work here; the dugouts
gleam like bathtub liners installed in a day. I watch a groundsman
tend the pitcher’s mound as if Whitey Ford were coming in from the dead
for the 7 P.M. start instead of this Cabral kid from the D. R.,
who they claim is pretty good. I take my ticket and glasses in hand,
and turn to the job of finding my place: row E on the first base line.
Before it’s all gone, I’ll retry all my favorite seats one more time
and case the joint for treasures to sell on eBay or trade with others
who like to spin boys’ tales full of pirates and padres and tigers.
One dark night, maybe we’ll turn into baseball burglars and rip out a pair
of wooden seats, a string of balusters—the pitcher’s mound, of course—
where now, I see a young man in street clothes, standing with confidence,
his right hand tucked behind his back, eyes fixed on the imaginary batter,
reading him without giving away anything, and the imaginary catcher,
talking in signs and body language, running through the choices
in the dance repertoire of sixty feet six inches. Me, I’d go with a fast ball,
high on the inside; I’d kiss that golden cross around my neck, straighten out
my junk, and ram a fast ball in his ear before anyone could say
this game takes too damn long to get to the point. But Cabral is in no hurry.
He lingers like he has all the time in the world. And I guess he does.