Poem of the Week: “Listening to Baseball in the Car for James Tate”

This semi-divine poem by Gail Mazure celebrates the Red Sox and hope and honors fellow poet James Tate. It encapsulates the fallibility of baseball and the futility of a fan watching or listening but not playing. When you’re done, check out Mazure, who’s written more than one great baseball poem in her day…

This morning I argued with a friend
about angels. I didn’t believe
in his belief in them– I cannot
believe they’re not a metaphor.
Our argument, affectionate,
lacking an animus, went nowhere.
We promised to talk again soon.
Now, when I’m driving away
from Boston and the Red Sox
are losing, I hear the announcer
say, ‘No angels in the sky today’ –
baseball-ese for a cloudless afternoon,
no shadows to help a man
who waits in the outfield
staring into the August sun.
Although I know the announcer’s
not a rabbi or a sage (no,
he’s a sort of sage, disconsolate
philosopher of batting slumps
and injuries), still, I scan
the pale blue sky through my
polarized windshield, fervently
hopeful for my fading team
and I feel something a little
foolish, a prayerful throbbing
in my throat, and remember
being told years ago that men
are only little lower
than the angels. Floating ahead of me
at the Vermont border, I see
a few wispy, horse mane clouds
which I quietly pray will drift
down to Fenway Park, where
a demonic opponent has just
slammed another Red Sox pitch,
and the centerfielder – call him ‘Jim’ –
runs back, back, back,
looking heavenward,
and is shielded and doesn’t lose
the white ball in the glare.

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