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The Night Game

by
 Some of us believe
We would have conceived romantic
Love out of our own passions
With no precedents,
Without songs and poetry--
Or have invented poetry and music
As a comb of cells for the honey.
Shaped by ignorance, A succession of new worlds, Congruities improvised by Immigrants or children.
I once thought most people were Italian, Jewish or Colored.
To be white and called Something like Ed Ford Seemed aristocratic, A rare distinction.
Possibly I believed only gentiles And blonds could be left-handed.
Already famous After one year in the majors, Whitey Ford was drafted by the Army To play ball in the flannels Of the Signal Corps, stationed In Long Branch, New Jersey.
A night game, the silver potion Of the lights, his pink skin Shining like a burn.
Never a player I liked or hated: a Yankee, A mere success.
But white the chalked-off lines In the grass, white and green The immaculate uniform, And white the unpigmented Halo of his hair When he shifted his cap: So ordinary and distinct, So close up, that I felt As if I could have made him up, Imagined him as I imagined The ball, a scintilla High in the black backdrop Of the sky.
Tight red stitches.
Rawlings.
The bleached Horsehide white: the color Of nothing.
Color of the past And of the future, of the movie screen At rest and of blank paper.
"I could have.
" The mind.
The black Backdrop, the white Fly picked out by the towering Lights.
A few years later On a blanket in the grass By the same river A girl and I came into Being together To the faint muttering Of unthinkable Troubadours and radios.
The emerald Theater, the night.
Another time, I devised a left-hander Even more gifted Than Whitey Ford: A Dodger.
People were amazed by him.
Once, when he was young, He refused to pitch on Yom Kippur.

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