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First Practice
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She’s a Mariner in the Pony League.
Next year balls and strikes, but this season
T-ball. Her father sets her up at the plate,
adjusting her stance and helmet.
He stands behind his daughter
in a kind of embrace, his hands enfolding hers
on the handle of the bat, a gentle
emphasis that calms her. As one
they slowly bring the sweet spot to the ball
then draw it back, again and again,
shoulders and hips turning in tandem.
He steps back. She makes contact
and the ball goes like a skipped stone
across the skinned infield, gets by
the shortstop, and dies safely in the long grass.
The helmet’s turned sideways from the swing
and she carries the bat halfway to first.
The next one up is a boy she likes.
He looks at her and she slowly swings
an imaginary bat level and true,
shoulders and hips turning. Then
he makes contact too and she’s away.
Home now after the game—no winner
and loser—she has a surprise for her father:
the skull of a bird she pocketed in right field.
She gently opens her hands.

Thomas Reiter  

Thomas Reiter’s most recent book of poems is Catchment . He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Georgia Review , and The Sewanee Review .

Copyright © 2013 Louisiana State University Press
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Thomas Reiter. "First Practice." Southern Review 49.4 (2013): 575-575. Project MUSE. Web. 10 Oct. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Reiter, T.(2013). First Practice. Southern Review 49(4), 575. Louisiana State University Press. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
Thomas Reiter. "First Practice." Southern Review 49, no. 4 (2013): 575-575. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed October 10, 2013).
TY - JOUR
T1 - First Practice
A1 - Thomas Reiter
JF - Southern Review
VL - 49
IS - 4
SP - 575
EP - 575
PY - 2013
PB - Louisiana State University Press
SN - 2168-5541
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/southern_review/v049/49.4.reiter.html
N1 - Volume 49, Number 4, Autumn 2013
ER -

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