Sunday, December 1, 2013

My Last At Bat

by sermonauthor

I still recall my final class in high school
nervous hours before 
receiving my diploma 
the only reward proffered 
for the singular achievement
of surviving my teenage years

I remember well my last meal
and even the movement that followed

But damned if I can recall my final AB
Something so memorable and deep 
in a career 
so forgettable and shallow 
should be easy to conjure
like a rabbit from a hat 
or the face of Alicia Johnson 
whenever  I catch a whiff of the heather 
in our tended country garden

I know it wasn't in Little League
that I took my final cuts
the hey-batta-batta 
suh-WING batta batta 
ringing in my ears
That day I hit a solid shot to right 
and tore my pint-sized uniform sliding severely
and unsafely 
into second. 

Babe Ruth, Junior Varsity and Legion ball 
all failed 
to serve up that evocative pitch
though there were a few coaches
who likely wished my retirement
had come the year before . . . 

It makes me wonder if company games 
or church softball 
served as The Alamo to a career that
had it been stillborn 
in Pee Wee League
would have never been remembered  
by anyone but my faithful mother 
who never missed a game
or a chance to berate an umpire 

The noise I hear today is either a stoic wind
or something calling from the cornfield. 
They are ghosts from sandlot days 
and they are short
beckoning me from the tall, green stalks 
to come play a game of catch 
and to swing 
one more time
a 24-ounce Willie Mays autographed bat 
from four foot two inches high.

It is then I realize why the detail 
of my final swing 
has eluded this often addled brain
even at an age 
that would make Satchel Paige
seem a rookie
I haven't yet taken my final cuts

And if my last at bat is still in front of me
I really don't want to be late. 

So I find the wooden sliver of 
a near-forgotten youth
that sweet, brown, tarnished treasure
stored in the shed
but more in perpetuity
for half a century
It seems a toothpick now 
And I yell at my wife from half out the door:

"Be gone all day. 
Be back for dinner."

©Copyright 2013 sermonauthor

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