Voices on the Wind
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.