The Boy in Baseball Liam Rector Poetry

local_library The Boy in Baseball

by Liam Rector

Published in Issue No. 14 ~ July, 1998

While you were considering the two hundred families with all
                        the power
and yakking about enemies of France, I suddenly
turned to the window now covered with frost
and began to make a sketch of the new possibilities.

The sketch inadvertently reveals the boy in baseball,
he who drinks at a somewhat cheap though somehow
                        charming tavern
near the stadium. He says that he has been married for
                        thirteen years,
what he calls “thirteen long ones.”

In this painfully telling yet commonplace scene
I hear you going on and on about the humiliation of
                        the individual
caught in the “boss yes” and “boss no” of the industrial centers,
caught in what you are now calling a “managerial revolution.”

I return to the frost for a moment and it seems clear
that the past does not occur behind the present, but is actually
quite far out to the front of it, and that whatever I think of this,
however nonsensical, is of little harm, and to be enjoyed as such.

You say that some “rough beast” is slouching towards somewhere
and that the truth is that no one is free enough to follow
                        whatever meaning
all this might have. You note that someone recently smacked
                        a minister in his eye,
someone who was tired of his turmoil, and that it took three
                        weeks for the cornea to heal.

At this point my eyes have become so clear and blank that no sculptor
would try for them, and I’m thinking that I’ll soon find my pockets,
the ones in which I shall place my hands for the eventual off-walking
I am soon to do, the solitude and shame of somehow leaving you.

You nervously implore me to fetch your pills and you mention
your long-chronicled involvement with what you accurately term
“the absinthe harbor of neglect,” and as I view the details of
                        your prescription
upon returning, I note that you might somehow have pledged
                        yourself to a more elegant calligraphy.

I learned from the lost drawings that the truest line finds itself
by going ahead and getting out there, fully into the emptiness,
and that emptiness has its own way of going. As we leave,
you nervously break down, in the old-fashioned manner
                        of the 1950’s.

I had meant to tell you that the boy in baseball had mentioned
                        your name,
had recalled “a few brief moments” wherein your clothes had come off
like some awkward history that you were just slipping out of,
and that he remembered you this way, indeed foretold you, impossible.

All this reminds me that people are finally silly and not enough
                        like birds.
For the moment, let’s make it home. It’s true, the grains scream
                        at the end of summer –
they’re far from the beach and about to be cut – they know it,
                        we know it –
we know, like the scorpion, that there is a deadening corner and
                                of course, the sting is staying even.

In the car you are still grumbling about the boy in baseball –
                        his hairy chest,
his perfect shadow. You say that he was just another “bullshit artist”
who never learned to work with his hands, that his eloquence is
                        simply another quiz show, sponsored by noise.

You won’t let the thing go about the boy in baseball.
I won’t turn the wipers on, to rid the windshield of its frost.

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Liam Rector is the 1998 recipient of the Pen/ New England Award. His first book of poems was The Sorrow of Architecture, and he was editor of The Day I Was Older: On the Poetry of Donald Hall. He has received fellowships in poetry from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and he has administered literary programs at the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Academy of American Poets, Associated Writing Programs, and elsewhere. He has taught at Goucher College, George Mason University, and Phillips Academy and is currently the Director of the Writing Seminars at Bennington College. He took graduate degrees from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He now resides in Massachusetts.