SUMMERS NEAR STOWE
Before these hills
grew downhill spas
gated estates for hedge fund
refugees, the crop was farm boys:
thick-legged kids with hard palms
and acne, sanded by winter,
who skied to four-room schools from need.
We played them in the county
Babe Ruth League: a summer camp
against town teams, new store-bought
outfits versus pick-me-ups. Their
infields pegged throws round the horn in
jeans. Those games meant gritted
slides, dodged curves, sharp flying spikes.
Something elusive made them fierce
that sprung lashed drives, snapped
change-ups hurled for hours at barns.
As I recall we never won,
too innocent to deal with
what was caged. For us it was
just ball. We left on schedule
for cold swims, clay tennis courts.
I wondered why they couldn’t
join the dare-me plunges to our
spring-fed pool. But strangeness
closed this off in hand-slaps
that avoided eyes. Seeing comes later –
late. Too late to cross old tribal lines
or enter into modes of being
that now reside in ankle-scars
from blocking old home plates.
From Man Overboard (2018)