Ear to the earth,
I slump in the outfield grass
Like a beached body, listening
To the world confess my faults—
Twelve, clumsy from the crib,
I leaped at the clouds
As the brown baseballs
Plummeted around me, not one
In my glove the daylong afternoon.
And the coach, kicking the batting cage,
Waved me deep to left field—O gravity
When will you love me
As a mother loves her sick child!
After the drills and the long run,
They leave the field
To me and the bullbats swooping
Low among the insects that nag
The evening air of midsummer.
I suck on a weedstem, I want
To be reborn, to come back dumb
And with fingers limber as monkey tails!
Louisiana 1957 and it’s too hot to dream—
I turn on my back and watch the birds,
Their shrill melisma, flak of their black wings
Like night falling piece by piece.
from his book Relics
Wesleyan University Press, 1984
used with permission of the poet