'At the Batting Cage'

Baseballs, stitched in figure eights,
sped in intervals of ten seconds past your bat's edge
where cage-wire almost invisible
caught, then glancingly rebounded,
taut, ivory globes that smelled of summer and stadiums.
The ricochet shook the wire mesh
and your certainty that every ball would play.
Noon, the concrete smooth as the bay
beyond the park's tuneful amusements
and the spirit-science of baseball:
hit hard, throw hard, avoid thinking about the game.
You gripped the bat and from shoulder to hip
unwound your frame into contact -
a snap like the tail of a whip
over a turf of green, and the sun deepened;
I felt fastballs disappear into left field
and saw you lace another;
again you prepped, your sweat glittered.
Even the dignified returns, each ricochet pure
curves and exertion and payoff in training not just for a day
but, maybe, for dedication, more bearable than thinking -
to feel time in the seconds, intelligence in contact,
the underestimated sensation of hitting into the outfield
where lights burn no less strongly
for being artificial and fans are clear
about what they love.

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