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Not my best,
not the high hard one,
rocketing in on the crux of the plate,
bat cocked, your eyes narrowed,
strength against strength,
heart against heart,
the two of us consumed by
the concussive bark
as ball meets bat.
No, you need the slider,
the knuckle ball, the split-fingered curve,
something phantasmal, hopped-up,
or off-speed, absurd - the one
that emerges from the sun's glare,
out and away, but somehow
swoops back and brushes the lip of the plate.
Or the one that, at first glance, smacks of home run,
the farm-fat meatball sucker pitch
which, in the end, crosses the crucial
two feet wide and ankle high.
You're not after the mighty hit
or even the valiant whiff.
All you want is
a generous slice of the marvelous.
You want the sort of pitch
that crosses the plate
over and over all winter,
that replays itself nightly in your dreams,
each time from a different angle,
your smoke-bat or thunder-stick
leaving vapor trails
in and around and through
its passing. You're at home
in that nether world between
fact hard as hickory
and possibility's sweet blur.
For you, the beauty of the at-bat lies
not in what you've done and seen
but what, again and again,
in a thousand spring guises,
you might have been.