Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1


The spindly scars of the baseball flirting
in the pitcher’s palm, that caravan of fingers
ready to curve inward toward a plate loaded

with nothing more than Mars dust and mimings
of the catcher, or under the Jumbotron’s
blind eye the hordes spidering around

their foot-longs: these nights, hands remember
their glorious origins, lotuslike in womb-water.
Watch the child offered a popsicle. Watch her hand

pulse for what it wants to hold. To have and hold.
Used to be we chose lots with straw-lengths,
what would decide the fate of the shipwrecked

and citrusless, the hand holding the unlucky hand.
The hand holding just a hand: marbled, mouthward.
Now would be a good time for a sickle. Or sickness.

But how beautiful they look on deck,
spiders on the last thread holding them
like a hand above water, fingers forked.

The empty slingshot of victory must keep nothing
inside. Therefore the seamen eat with such longing,
the food loaded in their hands suddenly weightless,

the water around them an empty plate, and all they have
to do is jump. Life is practice for estranging fingers
from the hands they belong to. All hands on deck.

Above deck, even. Victory is the farthest fingers travel.
But how beautiful they are on the open face of a diamond
scrubbed of its green. How beautifully they beat their gloves,

punishing each dispossession, or from the dugout signaling
the sacrifice. Or on deck. Already the outfielder pulses
his hand, positioned under. Victory praises the fall

of the ball and the hand that keeps the others at bay.
Already the outfielder feels the scars of his last handling,
or the fans’ hands slapping each other for the right to praise

their likeness, or the forks held after the game, the plate, the cup.  end