KNUCKLEBALLER *

– in memory of Everett Kimball

There you are, always, in follow-through,
right arm extended, the two-fingered grip
of the knuckleball you’ve just released
in the form of a v, the symbol for victory
held out in the air, the pitch you’ve thrown
fluttering like the breeze, which the catcher

reaches to snag with his oversized mitt,
the batter having swung and missed, taking
a big cut toward the fence. Your image rests
on one of your daughter’s most cherished
dressers, amid other photos of the family,
but it is you that she remembers best,

the square set of your jaw, the straight
nose you gave her, the mouth expressing
a hint of a smile, the kindness in that.
Giants spelled out across your jersey,
the barracks situated behind you, one
of the several teams you pitched for, being

so good that it saved you from having
to go to war by pitching for the army.
You are still your daughter’s oldest
and best friend, the one who helped her
with her math when she sat on the arm
of your chair as a girl, the one whom

you assisted in mapping out the town
of Northborough for a history project
in high school, which covered an entire
wall in the basement, and the one with
whom you filled with love and a laughter
that still rises within her, that perpetuates

as does the image in the photograph,
connecting you both from past to present,
providing her with buoyancy on
her darker days, always brightening her best,
as the pitch you’ve thrown can almost be
heard popping, unseen, into the catcher’s mitt.