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Old Baseball Found Under A Bush

ISSUE:  Autumn 1991
On this ultimate spitball
 steeped for who knows how many unseasonable seasons
  under a parkside bush,

two tiny snails are tracing
  fingerings: fast ball, slider, split finger, curve,
   a patient rehearsal

over horsehide so putrefied
 the regulation pressure-wound muscular core beneath
  is dissolving like newsprint.

This is something you want
 to drop, not throw: the old flirtation with gravity
  has gone sour, there’s too much

dirt and scuff and sweat and smell,
 the delicate infinite swell of the hand-stitched seams
  protrudes from its flayed skin

like a skeleton, a bone of hope.
 This thing is meant for the heavy hands of the dead.
  So I tuck it back in the dark

as the snails polish their trail,
 a couple of umpires searching for whatever it was
  that made this ball jump once.


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