Father, it was an honor to be there, in the dugout
with you, in the good ol’ days. Learning
as you taught me and my comrades,
clad in dark heat black, the love of the game -
And it was you who gave me the power
to slice the air with a stick
of aluminum, nearly as large as I.
The spitting and fence grabbing, the endless high fives
and the yelling. Boys being men.
It was you who introduced me to the music
of the sweet sound of contact -
the bat whooshing through the air to greet
the sizzling stitches, cutting through the cold breeze. Speedy
curveballs breaking down, like a hip-hop DJ.
The crimson stitching its magic in the air,
while white bullets break sonic speeds,
harmonizing with the hollow chants
of childhood fans.
It was you who taught me never to give up
in the bottom of the seventh,
down by nine and even more in spirit.
Your words, ringing chords to my one good ear,
making marks in the dirt. Digging,
digging down, deep down,
stare-down to the finish -
and the ball charged home,
like a train running late under the lights.
The bat you taught me to swing
made music you taught me to hear,
and the white, leather-bound ball of cork soared
into the golden heavens,
having conversations with the eagles.
Car horns, clapping, cleats tip-tapping.
The music you taught me to hear.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.