By Edward Hirsch
Each day was a time clock that scarcely moved,
a slow fist punching us in, punching us out,
electric heat smoldering in the purple air,
but each night was a towering white fly ball
to center field — ”a can of corn” — coming down
through stars glittering above the diamond.
Each day was a pair of heavy canvas gloves
hoisting garbage cans into an omnivorous mouth
that crept through thoroughfares and alleys,
but each night was the feeling of a bat
coming alive in your hands, it was lining
the first good pitch for a sharp single.
That summer I learned to steal second base
by getting the jump on right-handed pitchers
and then sliding head-first into the bag.
I learned to drive my father’s stick shift
and to park with my girlfriend at the beach,
our headlights beaming and running low.
I was a 16-year-old in the suburbs
and each day was another lesson in working,
a class in becoming invisible to others,
but each night was a Walt Whitman of holidays,
the clarity of a whistle at 5 P.M.,
the freedom of walking out into the open air.