This piece was published in the June 1988 issue of Poetry. I like the ephemeral feel of this piece. The use of the words “dream” and “memory” are so indicative and appropriate.
It took time to study who was missing
from the dream ball club that paraded
through the dark in uniforms and numbers
holding up posters of the lost teammate
as if campaigning for their man.
I had to walk the dream railroad track again
where my son followed me at first, then took
the lead, balanced, leaped forward over the ties,
And to sit with the inquisitor who wore
my dachshund around his neck like a precious
fur with lacquered eyes.
I had to listen then to memory,
your fastball, your grand slams out of the park.
And go back to the bleachers at Yankee Stadium
where you took me at 7 though I was not the son
whose hear, that sly courser, unseated him.
He was the one you saved your prize for,
the baseball Babe Ruth signed.
At the game you tried to show me what you saw
but I was gabbing about something else:
another hot dog, how many more minutes.
It took time, Father, to see
you swinging, connecting.