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 Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose  


(Vermont, 1950s)

Before these hills

grew downhill spas

half-timbered chalets

gated estates for hedge fund

refugees, the crop was farm boys:

thick-legged kids with hard palms

and acne, sanded by winter,

who skied to four-room schools from need.

We played them in the county

Babe Ruth League: a summer camp

against town teams, new store-bought

outfits versus pick-me-ups. Their

infields pegged throws round the horn in

jeans. Those games meant gritted

slides, dodged curves, sharp flying spikes.

Something elusive made them fierce

that sprung lashed drives, snapped

change-ups hurled for hours at barns.

As I recall we never won,

too innocent to deal with

what was caged. For us it was

just ball. We left on schedule

for cold swims, clay tennis courts.

I wondered why they couldn’t

join the dare-me plunges to our

spring-fed pool. But strangeness

closed this off in hand-slaps

that avoided eyes. Seeing comes later –

late. Too late to cross old tribal lines

or enter into modes of being

that now reside in ankle-scars

from blocking old home plates.

From Man Overboard (2018)