- The Pillage, and: The Hotdog, and: The Girls
Time passes into the limbs of the boys on the field stretching before the season’s last game, into memories of their phantom selves tugging wheelbarrows through fields, flying gleefully over one bump and another. Into the lines and furrows of their brows, into the solid precision of their bodies trained to field and battle, time passes, the day nearly recollection. They come rushing from the dugout in uniform to take their positions, confident, aware of the fleeting glory of the moment, their faces glow like the last lightning bugs of the season, heat and adrenaline bursting from their bodies. Let’s watch the enlightened leaves burn into dark and angry flames. [End Page 136]
Watch him flip them the bird after the ball comes flying, a line drive hit hard between first and second just outside his reach, he dives for it, catches it, and lobs it to first. Years of practice, mornings up before dawn, long afternoons cascading into dusk— no one can touch him. Out on the field, under the commanding sun he’s claimed his position. He is old enough to know his story is no longer his coach’s nor his father’s. When the outfield retires, and he takes the plate, look. Watch him pound it out of the park. [End Page 137]
That day the boys took us quickly. They took us calmly. It was not in our beds or in the backseat of a car or in a field on a blanket. They took us with the magnificence of their bodies. They did not know that when we watched them make a play with skill and grace, like a player mastering the chess pieces on a board, silent guardians of their own sacred positions, they had us. Their bodies were like fortresses, their minds half-barred windows. They took us with intensity. They took us eager and as they took us we knew we were different. What we liked most was their strength, the throbbing muscles in their necks, the way their callused [End Page 138] hands gripped the bat, ready to bear down, ready to get some. They did not know it was enough to find us with their eyes across the field behind the gated fence when the air smelled of manure and rotting grass when we did not yet know we wanted them. [End Page 139]
Jill Bialosky is the author of three volumes of poetry, including Intruder (Knopf, 2010); two novels, The Life Room (Harcourt, 2007) and House Under Snow (Harcourt, 2002); and a memoir, History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life (Atria Books, 2011). The poems that appear in this issue are from a thirteen-part sequence that appears in the collection The Players (Knopf, 2014).