Fiction   Essays   Poetry  The Ten On Baseball Chapbooks In Memory

Laura Bontrager

on account of darkness

"On Satchel Paige Day in July of 1942. . .Paige gave up seven hits and struck out six before the game was called on account of darkness. "

                               --Black Baseball in Chicago

wincing, Josh Gibson says:
when I catch,
when I squat down behind
the batter and thump my fist
into the glove,
there's the sound of confidence
and dirt, the sound
of a game.
you and me, Satch.

when he blinks,
the ink of the newspaper
January 19, 1947
swims in his vision like
scurrying baseball players
on the diamond, getting under
a fly ball -- Negro players
because it's ink and it's all
there is.

ah, Jackie,
make me proud,
me and Satchel Paige.

hey batter.
attaboy, attaboy Satch.
the sun flares along left field.
the side-to-side dance of the shortstop,
Satchel's stare-down, the flinging pitch,
which floats over the air
to his ears like the jeers from
the outfield, and the cramps
lock up his knees again.

he squares his glove
and the strikes go in like arrows,
thwack, to the target,
cradled by leather.

the sun collapses
over the left field wall. no lights.
he can see the grim eyes of his pitcher
and the first baseman chewing,
but not his own hand.

the crowd grumbles away
and the outfielders come running in.
his head aches, an animal pain.
ah, Jackie. I wanted them all
to know me, to remember me.
but you'll be the end.
the game is called
on account of darkness.

©2007 by Laura Bontrager

Laura Bontrager works as a behavioral aide for a boy with autism, and as an assistant in a library at a private school.

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