The Truth About Curveballs
Someone, writes Anna, threw her a curveball.
She has to go back downstate, but wants to see
us at our lake house. All she requires is a view.
I think about that awful summer of 1964.
I stepped into the batter’s box only to flee
as the ball barreled toward my head.
“Strike one!” the ump growled. Surely
he’d misplaced the whiskbroom used
to dust off his sanity. I stepped back
into the batter’s box only to duck again,
the ball locked onto my dome. “Strike two!”
bellowed the madman behind the plate.
In the dugout, after my third strike,
Coach explained that I was the victim
of a junk pitcher throwing curves. My
survival instinct wouldn’t allow me
to stick in there and watch the malicious orb
descend from concussion level to make its
lazy swerve over the plate. A few games later
I was replaced by a guy who cared little
for life and limb. He pounded those seamed
projectiles with impunity. Three weeks after
I’d turned in my uniform, my father smoked
his last cigarette and died, and now our friend,
Anna, says her surgeon has thrown a curveball,
put her in a box she can’t step out of. Her gall-
bladder is playing for a team called Cancer. I sit
on our couch, much as I sat in that dugout fifty
years ago, listen to what this junk pitcher has
thrown our friend who trained for every season,
kept a careful diet, exercised, and rose early
to behold the grandeur of sun, lake, and wind.
She’ll stick in there, I pray, even when
that awful orb beans her. She’ll get
on base, steal second. Some fearless guy
named Chemo will hit her home.