Under the Little League Bleachers
In the sun-splintered shadows and yellow grass,
I look for loose change, bracelets with broken clasps,
or ball point pens half buried in the dirt,
but all I find are cigarette butts and a crushed beer can,
the gold lettering the only glint in the shade.
The afternoon is hot, the weight of concession stand
fried food heavy in the still air. Lips and tongue
stained by a grape snow cone, I listen as my mother
shifts above me and turns to her neighbor,
Five innings and still no score. She fans her face
with a folded flyer someone left tucked
under the windshield wipers of our parked car.
I don’t watch my brother at bat, don’t join in
when the sparse crowd and a tired coach start
to yell his name. At six, I am a regular
at his little league games. I know that he
always strikes out. Poking a stick into an anthill,
I miss the moment his bat cracks the ball.
When the stand erupts into cheers, I hoist
myself up, peering around adult feet and purses,
and watch his victory dance around the bases,
his slide into home plate for the winning run.
For years afterwards, I will remember
small triumphs as dust swirling in the breeze,
as mud and grass stains my mother scrubbed
from the thighs of a boy’s baseball uniform,
while she stood over the kitchen sink smiling.
The Girl Who Eats Baseball Cards
She never swallows the statistics:
the RBI’s, the homeruns, the stolen bases.
She only wants to taste the tip
of the bat, the seams of the glove.
With every corner she tears with her teeth,
she imagines the perfect pitch,
or the great slide into home base.
Then, she remembers elbows bent
at bat, or a pop fly bouncing free.
You throw like a girl, her father says,
sounding angry. She wonders
if she has a choice. She rips Mickey Mantle
in two, chews and then spits.