Friday, May 27, 2005

Baseball Sends Me

I love baseball. As George Carlin pointed out years ago, it’s not the most macho sport on the planet (“Football is played in a STADIUM…baseball is played in a park”). But there’s still plenty erotic about it. Have you seen the look in Kerry Wood’s eye when he winds up for a pitch?

Anything that provides moments of suspense, prowess, power, and sensual enjoyment is erotic to me. The crack the bat makes when generating a home run gives me shivers: That staccato wooden note is a sound of pure force, a sound that speaks of the power in the shoulders of the batter, which in turn says masculinity to me in the most essential way.

Here’s a poem I wrote a few years back about a moment in a coed softball game. I think it makes my point fairly well.

At Bat

Muggy summer night
I have climbed to the highest bleacher—
He is next at bat

He waits on deck, his face clear and stoic
So clean in its lack of emotion
His visage reveals nothing beyond its own youth
So magnificently simple I am transfixed

He steps to the plate, takes his stance
If he hears his teammates cheer, he shows no sign
If there is any threat he denies it
He is purely himself

He takes a swing
In his shoulders strength builds and releases
As easily as I take breath
Draws back the bat, swings again
Such grace as if he knows no other purpose
His mind steadies the moment
Gauging distance, determining force
He is ready

And I
find the still point of his body and am centered there

Low and outside

I realize then how much I want it
The spark, the crack of wood on leather
The power in his shoulders impacted to the ball
The sight of it arching away, arching away

He plants his feet, swings once and twice
Is it physics or poetry?
I feel in his coiled stillness
Potential energy, a pause in the verse
I shush my heart, and the pitcher releases

A strike

I see the smallest signs that he is perturbed
But he lets it pass
And once more swings, recocks the bat
For a moment I don’t care if he connects or not
Content alone in the poise of his arms
But then the desire rises again

Hit it. Hit it hard.

He holds; she pitches
He swings

I can feel it before it happens
How he sends all his strength deep into the wood
Bat meets ball just as he wills it
That glorious crack, and the orb flies

I’m on my feet
He is gone in a flash as the white dot soars
Soars…falls…finds grass
Everyone is scrambling, yelling
Runners cross the plate
Who knew this man could sprint so?
As fast as my breathing, rushing like my blood
He stops at third

And on the next play he comes home

After the game we speak
He wears his sweat like jewels
And his pride like humility
I praise him, he thanks me
But he would never guess
The sublime adventure he fashioned at bat

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