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Jane Yongue Wood

Elegy for the Cleveland Pitchers

Up in section 11 at the Friday night game,
there's that moment
when the last of the sun and
the first beams from the stadium tiers
light those bone-pale girders
that circle the rim of the park
and make a perfect orb
crowned by a darkening dome of grey.
The wet, shorn grass shimmers in the half-glow.

The pitch blows by Bonds, a strike at the knees.

In the sweetness of the evening, that whirl of stitching white is like a perfect thought that moves, untouched, past the smash of the bat, past the force that waits to undo it, to corrupt its spotless motion in that moment of waiting time.

In that slowly rushing instant, I half remember-- . . .There was that wreck--what happened? Those three that pitched with Cleveland. . . ?

And the memory comes back with a motion of its own-- --a fast boat at night a concrete pier right at head level.

One was traded from the Dodgers. One was really starting to hum. One lived.

I think of them, all younger than me, on that evening in the South, there in another sweet glow of cut grass, maybe with the young wives, or the girl friends--sun dresses, swim suits, tee shirts wet on curves. . . . And the idea comes to try the boat's smooth speed at night, to skim that surface of silky calm like an unhittable slider that just catches the corner of the plate.

And I think how death is always in the air down there, in the ragged, flat, hanks of fur on the highway, the standing, cloyed smell from the ditches, the ripe whiff of liquor on warm breath, on those kisses that take you deep.

Death is in that moving circle of moon reflected in black water, hanging like a big, looping, curve that sails and sails, as if out of reach forever. . .

I see them in that last moment, flying together, three untouched brows, going straight in, as if nothing could intervene between the speed and the thought of it. . . .

Forgetting how easily things break, how often you lose.

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