portion of the artwork for Jamez Chang's poetry

Impossible Joy
Jamez Chang

18 minutes past bedtime in our living room
I understand
how you’ve forgotten about Mom
the way I’ve forgotten about field-trip permissions,
thermoses and
slips                    both our minds
Because on this Saturday, we are watching Kirk Gibson
wave his heavy wand and make the ball disappear
over blue fences and
everyone is happy again—and if you’re happy, Dad,
well then …

I am, at first, confused why you’re even home tonight,
since you usually work late, up until Saturday
you work until you come home
and then you wake me up for church.
But you’re here, and Vin Scully is telling us on TV that
With two bad legs he can’t push off and he can’t land

I have landed on your lap as you stare
at the player digging in the dirt,
twisting a bat handle with
two hands
You’re crouching forward and so is he
all three of us waiting for the man on his pitcher’s mound to
“Throw the damn ball!”

You don’t have the sad look tonight, your tumbler is dried,
and I feel a clearness too                    about
what will happen next:
Hear beautiful words from a man named Scully,
who tells us how
Gibby is like a horse trying to get rid of a troublesome gnat
And you look at me and smile, propping me up for a better seat,
only so ready to
Watch the world through better-time eyes—and if you’re happy, Dad,
well then …

As you sway me back-and-forth on cradled knees,
I begin to feel sorry for the other team because
The organ music is not for them.
The loud and cheering crowd is not for them.
This home run is not for them.
High fly ball to right field …
The outfield man runs three steps back and stops
Past disappearing.

You’re carrying me and dancing in circles around a sofa,
launching me up above your shoulders for merry-go-rides
letters on white uniforms popping off men’s backs
in zig-zag blue: Anderson, Hatcher, So-shee-uh, Sax,
TOMMY                         and I look for her             
but only see a mob of men hugging and hitting at home
in slow-motion plates, a man staggers around our bases,

And after so much clapping, clutching, running out of a dugout
you rested me down,
and we both hear those words through a noisy crowd:
In a year that’s been so improbable, the impossible has happened!

In February I heard you crying in a dream—only it wasn’t,
just a broken father wiping at glass in a kitchen.
In October I heard you dreaming again
The TV sent us pictures and poetry of impossible joy:
a hobbled home run and
Your im-prob-able smile
And if you’re happy, Dad, well—

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 39 | Winter 2013