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English Faculty Poem Selected by Renowned Author

11/29/2011


English Faculty Poem Selected by Renowned Author

Sarah Freligh, adjunct professor of English at St. John Fisher College, has had a poem included in the recently-released anthology "Good Poems: American Places," edited by Garrison Keillor.

Freligh's poem, "City of Tonawanda Softball Championship," was originally read by Keillor during a Writer's Almanac segment in 2008. 

 

City of Tonawanda Softball Championship

Two down, two out, two on in the ninth

when Sid Szymanski stands in at catcher,

sorry substitute for Larry whose sure

hands were summoned to a plumbing

emergency by his buzzing pager in the bottom

of the sixth. Still, the usual chatter

Hum baby, hey baby hum hey Sidder Sidder Sidder

though Zack's guys are mentally packing

bats in bags, unlacing shoes in order

to get away-fast-before the Panthers,

arrogant bastards, can gather at home plate

in a love knot of high fives and beer foam

and gloat. Strike two and Sid calls time,

steps out to take a couple of practice cuts

a la Barry Bonds, like him a big man,

all head and chest, and Siddersiddersidder

the car keys are out, that's all she wrote

when the pitcher gets cute with a breaking ball,

hanging it a nanosecond too long, time

enough for even fat sad Sid to get around

and give that pill a ride.

 

Rounding first, already red faced, a crowd

in his throat, Sid wants to believe

it's not the sludge of a million

French fries, but pleasure

more exquisite than the first breast

he touched one winter Sunday

while his dad in the den upstairs

cursed the Packers and Bart Starr, while his mom

chattered on the phone to her friend

Thelma about the macaroni casserole

and menstrual cramps, Sid swallowed

hard and bookmarked his place

in Our Country's History, the page before

the Marines stormed the hill at Iwo Jima

and turned back the godless Japs, a high tide

clogging his chest as Alice Evans unfastened

the pearl buttons of her white blouse

and presented him with the wrapped gift

of her breasts, now second base and third

and the thicket of hand-slaps all the way

home where Sid hugs the center fielder

hurried and embarrassed the way men do,

oh, the moment, replayed again and again

over Labatt's at Zack's, the first pitcher

delivered by the great Zack himself

rumored to have been the swiftest,

niftiest shortstop on the Cardinal farm

but called to serve in Korea and after that

the closest he got to baseball was standing

next to Ted Williams at a Las Vegas urinal

 

Tomorrow Zack will make a place

for the trophy between dusty bottles

of Galliano and Kahlua while Sid

will field calls from customers complaining

about rising cable rates and too many queers

on TV, pretty much what he'll be doing

five years from now and ten when his wife

leaves a meatloaf in the freezer and runs off

with Larry the plumber and in twenty years,

when Zack's Bar is bulldozed

to make way for a Wal-Mart,

Sid will slump in a wheelchair

in a hallway littered with old men

mumbling and lost, wrapped

in the soft cloth of memory:

The arc of the white ball, a pearl

in the jewel box of twilight sky.

 


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