I have torn up the boy whose baseball
You are signing again.
He was beautiful,
As you are, Brooks Robinson,
As you lean your name back, a lefty’s autograph,
Your glove hand, the one that flops
To the dirt behind the bag,
The greatest feeling a human body could know,
The heft of ball in web.
I circled him for years and grew to love the game,
As the boy caromed a tennis ball off brick steps,
So for a moment, he could fly, too,
Snatch it before it rolled into the rhododendrons-
His Orioles cap bent in the dirt-
And sling it back against his small house,
As the full summer trees gasped like a rising crowd.
But when I found him dead
And beaked at the bones,
His glove was holding this baseball,
Bloodied, deeper than the orange of his brim.
So beautiful, Brooks.
I wanted you to know.