Saturday, October 29, 2016

Poem for Saturday, Random Thoughts, South Mountain Parks

By Gail Mazur

for John Limon

The game of baseball is not a metaphor  
and I know it's not really life.  
The chalky green diamond, the lovely  
dusty brown lanes I see from airplanes  
multiplying around the cities  
are only neat playing fields.  
Their structure is not the frame  
of history carved out of forest,  
that is not what I see on my ascent.

And down in the stadium,
the veteran catcher guiding the young  
pitcher through the innings, the line  
of concentration between them,  
that delicate filament is not  
like the way you are helping me,  
only it reminds me when I strain  
for analogies, the way a rookie strains  
for perfection, and the veteran,  
in his wisdom, seems to promise it,  
it glows from his upheld glove,

and the man in front of me
in the grandstand, drinking banana  
daiquiris from a thermos,
continuing through a whole dinner
to the aromatic cigar even as our team
is shut out, nearly hitless, he is
not like the farmer that Auden speaks  
of in Breughel's Icarus,
or the four inevitable woman-hating  
drunkards, yelling, hugging
each other and moving up and down  
continuously for more beer

and the young wife trying to understand  
what a full count could be
to please her husband happy in  
his old dreams, or the little boy
in the Yankees cap already nodding  
off to sleep against his father,
program and popcorn memories  
sliding into the future,
and the old woman from Lincoln, Maine,  
screaming at the Yankee slugger  
with wounded knees to break his leg

this is not a microcosm,  
not even a slice of life

and the terrible slumps,
when the greatest hitter mysteriously  
goes hitless for weeks, or
the pitcher's stuff is all junk
who threw like a magician all last month,  
or the days when our guys look
like Sennett cops, slipping, bumping  
each other, then suddenly, the play
that wasn't humanly possible, the Kid  
we know isn't ready for the big leagues,  
leaps into the air to catch a ball
that should have gone downtown,  
and coming off the field is hugged  
and bottom-slapped by the sudden  
sorcerers, the winning team

the question of what makes a man  
slump when his form, his eye,
his power aren't to blame, this isn't  
like the bad luck that hounds us,  
and his frustration in the games  
not like our deep rage
for disappointing ourselves

the ball park is an artifact,
manicured, safe, "scene in an Easter egg",  
and the order of the ball game,  
the firm structure with the mystery  
of accidents always contained,  
not the wild field we wander in,  
where I'm trying to recite the rules,  
to repeat the statistics of the game,
and the wind keeps carrying my words away


It was a ridiculously gorgeous day, so after we finished our work in the morning -- mine included posting a review of Voyager's still-disappointing "Random Thoughts" -- we drove to South Mountain to visit Gathland, Gambrill, and Washington Monument State Parks and South Mountain Creamery:

There were ladybugs and stinkbugs on top of the mountain and lots of squirrels in the trees. We got home in time to feed our ravenous cats, then have dinner with my parents, and we just watched the Cubs fail to score the one run they needed in the bottom of the 9th.

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