By Chris Mink
Like a new copper elbow she would bend at the middle
each summer, sleeve her pitching arm in farm tan,
and thread county lines through the whistle of her curveball,
and long ago a father and a son climbed the Cupola
to their own Earth’s orbit, and tonight at a dinner party Paul says
it was St. Peter’s Basilica, claims it was beautiful,
and the room becomes his coven.
Darkness rubs the windows out.
If anyone is going home soon tell them beauty is the mesquite
taste of an infield, that smoke so impossible to locate,
Copenhagen protects the secrets of cleat marks, their red clay
or day’s end or how the sun will tell it with a lazy late afternoon drawl,
clear its throat in shadow across the primitive geometry of baseline.
Tell them some things are given.
Tonight we talk of ancient sculpture in motion, drink Malbec
from thimbles while Paul says things like magnificent, mumbles stunning,
and my own rooted uselessness on second base is not what is
remembered, but that Willa McGrath had a windup pivot
atop that pitchers slab predictable as molasses, as the one caution
cross light yellowing in rage is a hanger for Carhardt hats
turned backwards, is brim-filthy with fish hooks.
Paul and his three-piece daddy world travelers,
Willa whose daddy was a rodeo man built by Bondo and bull hoof,
Willa who got caught fucking her stepbrother in the garage
while her mama got the vodka out, and we revere globe hopping
while Willa pours concrete now back in Rainbow City.
I haven’t seen her since we were kids.
I have never been to Europe, I tell Paul, like the closed sign
flickers on a slash pine outhouse. I try my damndest not to say y’all,
not to speak in the coal-rough diction that raised me, each verb
carelessly welded to the next. There are fountains in the Piazza,
they say, so loud every building feels as if it’s crumbling around me,
and I’m stuck in the boyish fiddle
of baseball diamond, lost off in a dream with Willa grown
and home after shoveling what’s called the green mud.
She fists a dirtied ball down and down like a hammer
into her daughter’s catchers mitt, a leather echo, a sound
absent in any brush strokes we admire on this wall, not one
beater truck rendered in stone, not one scent of glove oil
in all these fair trade candles, not a mama McGrath
screaming herself blind at a centerfield fence,
tongue begged out like the reddest magnolia petal stretched to its end.
Chris Mink is currently a PhD candidate at Florida State University. His work has appeared in The Greensboro Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Harpur Palate, and Anti-, among others.