for Ed ‘Skip’ Olsen
He could say from experience
that Babe Ruth was an asshole,
but he never said it on the field.
He’d say “Great hitter,” or “knew the game.”
Standing most of his 70 years on a diamond
from Heyday Yankees to coaching kids
at a two-year college, never changing
his black shorts that didn’t reach
halfway to his knees despite your hopes
that just one day he’d wear pants
and you’d forget how his leg veins
pulsed in synchronization with neck
and temple when you missed a grounder,
threw a wild pitch, struck out.
But when you threw up after laps
in the 103º heat he’d take off his cap,
rest his palm on your heaving back
and tell you to sit down, have a drink.
Leaving the same year—I to a university,
he to retirement—he finally acquiesced
to a happy hour beer at The Second Wind
Grossmont College’s nearest and dearest
dive bar, complete with perpetually sticky floors
15 watt light bulbs and weekly karaoke.
Three Coors Lights later, without turning from
the TV bolted to the wall playing the Padres
he mumbled just loud enough to hear
“Wish I could live forever,” eyes shining
up at these ‘boys’ in tight striped pants
and caps “so I could keep coaching.”
Without saying another word he tipped
the last bit of amber to his lips and ambled
into the doorway glowing with setting sun.