They needed no preamble,
before they were off again.
The hack of bat and ball,
as if sound had just been created
for the first time in Baltimore.
Two girls more excited by the cheers
than anything else,
save for the hot dogs and bases loaded,
when you explained what that meant.
When they tired of the game,
of the peanuts mixed with broken shells
under their feet,
of the lemonade turned sticky and warm,
they squeezed closer to you,
pulling your arms across their shoulders,
and napped at the seventh-inning stretch.
their lives were a series of first-ons,
bases loaded, doubles, triples,
and the final push past third—
one, a Nike in Nikes,
the other slower, yet surer of the path,
running the long crooked lines
away from home.
Your weakened body —
now, a runner on third — you called plays
from where you sat on the bleachers,
squinting over the field to
gauge distances from here to there,
tracing the bases and brilliant lines of light,
waiting for blue pinstripes of dusk
and the what that comes after.