When I was twelve, I spiked a boy at second base.
Put that seasonís shoes against an ear
And turned the key until it caught.
His face was too close to the base
I meant to steal. Served him right,
My coach said, teach him a lesson.
Lost his freckles years ago,
Lost his marbles later in the war,
That coach. Still, he knew the game,
Got us in the playoffs, three years straight.
Iím not blaming him for what I did,
Not giving him the credit, either.
The score was tied, as it often was
That year in Philly, zip to zip,
Apples marked the left field line
A few of us had smarted from the tongue
Of Mary Mary, a girl whose name
Was all she had, that and the nerve
To put her mouth against a boyís
And talk the kind of talk
Would never pass for infield chatter.
So I spiked him, put my cleats down hard,
Slid like someone Iíd never met, nor want to.
The wind blew in from left, the surest sign
Autumn was coming and the end of games.
After it was over, I sat on the stained ground
And ate sickle pears, stunted, half-grown,
For an hour, and thought about how one slide
Can ruin a season, and, just exactly how long
those pears intended to hang on that bent green tree.
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