Voices on the Wind Memorable Voices
Half and hardball hugs by Lars Samson In the late 1950s and black-and-white dusk of a midwestern backyard. The first times I can remember. That hollow pop of a baseball snapping into pounded leather. A piston stroke echoing through unfenced yards. Nudging the soft snoring from Avenue G. Watching the ball sail from Dadís hand. Arched with his trials and errors of three and a half decades. Thrown to me. With his intention and muscled joy. Our generationís rite of father-son apprenticeship with dads going off to jobs and homes no longer paying the mortgage or partnering father and son. More of me can be there, now. That splash of pain in palm ó when my catch missed the webbing ó seen as part of the lesson and its toll of flesh. Like Dadís dinner-table roasts: Pokes in the ribs, from the heart. His graceful sweeping of my throw into his boyhood mitt. I canít remember our words, but know I felt ó more so now ó somehow embraced. I would have had few words, back then, and probably dropped any from him. I had none, when I became his age and he retired. Me temporarily at home and Mom having left, again. Maybe reminding Dad of his chopped-off fathering ó Dad leaving for a city job. Mom and sisters gone and patriarch taking the bench. Guess it was my turn to coach. Arms unafraid to hold, but finding my champion soft and bony. Wondering if I had not known him and confused by his new words. Hug seeming half-empty. Me hoping, probably like he had, that it was the best I could do.