Hit flush on a sure swung bat:
that tight, puckered smack followed by
joined cries in a welter and rush-
globe of green sent high in arc,
voices urging a run to first base.
(A two-handed catch for an out, or
for the whole team, single-handed ,
single-handed snatch from the air)-
As beyond the lattice-grille fence
an ear attuned to the team's struck pitch-
Like the jump to a clear radio signal
from blather and gush:
an eye leaned to that small falling flight,
as a hand went up in pure reflex-
felt the palm clap to a stilled sureness.
Tonight I would conjure sleep-
as on that day, to keep a friend
at the garden fence, I conjured a frog
from the undergrowth.
It sprang out clear from my imagining:
with its quick heart, tight-jelly stomach
and sinewy hitch-kicking legs;
an Adam's-apple for a back.
Shock of life that's with me still,
outleaped its own spell.
Driving its monk-like crown forward,
coot rushes across Bay Pond-
that sight to a stone's
childhood's shot and open hand,
beside the sudden bank:
There, half way out on the pond,
baby coot writhing in the water...
Turning in the web-tangled water
with an instinct blind as my own, when,
years on, reeling wild, head-over
in a canoe
plumbed a stream's
Kicking and reeling till, of a sudden-
what felt like the sheerest miracle-
the baby coot righted itself
and with pitching strokes,
made toward the opposite bank...
My heart untensed with the inrush of air,
in relief close to pain.
With the boys
The day we made a run into town: Sunday,
the slow burn of evening into dark,
sky a kind of mellow slumber: “church time”.
Startled by that knock on the door, voices:
question quickly posed and poised, expectant.
Then us as sudden hurrying into town,
Leaping posts, chasing a path down
dark watchfulness of factories,
beside the closed and shadowing park.
Excited as our voices, laughing as
we rubbed shoulders, snatched at each other
in a flurry of feet through the dimness.
To the lights, the road that seemed long then-
up and over the bridge. Far from home now
and wild with release, abandoned to this release...
Past the horsechestnut tree, its unlit hugeness
shafted by a lamp-post's fizzling flare:
waspish light conquered by the conker tree.
Over the Waddon road and up to the crossing,
then on past The
In by the back end of town.
The film we saw starts into view:
its foamy, bizarre, freewheeling shots
ghosted by an opening of doors-
Us bursting joyful into evening,
as we pranked homeward and again past that church,
where now you lie.