Night Baseball

Michael Blumenthal

 
[I] retrace by moonlight the roads where I used to play in the sun.
                                                 — Marcel Proust
At night, when I go out to the field
to listen to the birds sleep, the stars
hover like old umpires over the diamond,
and I think back upon the convergences
of bats and balls, of cowhide and the whacked
thumping of cork into its oiled pockets,
and I realize again that our lives pass
like the phased signals of that old coach,
the moon, passing over the pitcher's mound,
like the slowed stride of an aging shortstop
as he lopes over the infield or the stilled echo
of crowds in a wintered stadium. I see again
how all the old heroes have passed on to their
ranches and dealerships, that each new season
ushers in its crop of the promised and promising,
the highly touted and the sudden phenoms of the
unexpected, as if the hailed dispensation of gifts
had realigned itself into a new constellation,
as if the old passages of decrepitude and promise
had been altered into a new seeming. I remember
how once, sliding into second during a steal,
I watched the sun rest like a diadem against the
head of some spectator, and thought to myself
in the neat preutterance of all true feeling,
how even our thieveries, well-done, are blessed
with a certain luminousness, how a man rising
from a pilfered sanctity might still upright himself
and return, like Odysseus, to some plenitude
of feast and fidelity. It is why, even then, I loved
baseball: the fierce legitimacy of the neatly stolen,
the calm and illicit recklessness of the coaches
with their wet palms and arcane tongues of mimicry
and motion. It is why, even now, I steal away
from my wife's warm arms to watch the moon sail
like a well-hit fly over the stadium, then hump
my back high over the pitcher's mound and throw
that old curve of memory toward the plate
where I run for a swing at it—the moon
and the stars approving my middle-aged bravado,
that boy still rising from his theft to find the light.
 
From Days We Would Rather Know, published by The Viking Press. Copyright © 1984 by Michael Blumenthal. Used by permission of the author.

Poems by This Author

Be Kind by Michael Blumenthal
Not merely because Henry James said
Fish Fucking by Michael Blumenthal
Jew by Michael Blumenthal
The melancholy of Chopin and cruel breathing
Manners by Michael Blumenthal
Just because a man pulls out your chair for you
Stones by Michael Blumenthal
We live in dread of something
Suburban by Michael Blumenthal
Conformity caught here, nobody catches it
The Difference between a Child and a Poem by Michael Blumenthal
If you are terrified of your own death
The Nurse by Michael Blumenthal
Now come the purple garments, now the white
United Jewish Appeal by Michael Blumenthal
My grandmother was eighty-nine and blind


Further Reading

Poems about the Moon
Anyway
by Richard Siken
Conversation Galante
by T.S. Eliot
If the Owl Calls Again
by John Haines
Lunar Paraphrase
by Wallace Stevens
Moonlight
by Sara Teasdale
The Creation of the Moon
by Anonymous
The Harvest Moon
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Moon in Time Lapse
by David Rivard
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
by Edward Lear
They Lived Enamoured of the Lovely Moon
by Trumbull Stickney
Untitled [and the moon once it stopped was sleeping]
by Erika Meitner
Poems About Sports
A Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball
by Christopher Merrill
After Skate
by Carol Muske-Dukes
Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
by James Wright
Baseball and Writing
by Marianne Moore
Casey at the Bat
by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
Days of Me
by Stuart Dischell
Fishing on the Susquehanna in July
by Billy Collins
Séance at Tennis
by Dana Goodyear
Tackle Football
by Dan Chiasson
The Bee
by James Dickey
The First Olympic Ode [excerpt]
by Pindar
The Trouble Ball [excerpt]
by Martín Espada
To An Athlete Dying Young
by A. E. Housman
Train-Mates
by Witter Bynner