American Summer by Edward Hirsch

American Summer

 

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.

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