Jonathan H. Scott
In Terms of Grass and Dirt
Today will make a week of cataloging
Baseball cards—two sometimes three hours a day,
Back bent over shoeboxes, aching.
They all have rounded corners, talismans
Of greasy fingered youth. Value lost
Is value gain—the thermodynamics
Of worth at work.
Should I take the back-ache
As penance for shoplifting Topps, as same-
Life, pop-karma for slying-out a pack
Per each that whittled our savings away?
We teach children not to steal but never
Not to want. We talk of the covetous
In terms of green grass—luxurious acres
Of lop-eared bunnies rising and falling
From shin-deep oceans of turf. Vis-à-vis,
That is, one's patch of dirt.
Today's for nineteen
Eighty-five—the nascence of illicit record-
Shattering veneered in extant gum-chalk.
I will touch the times my brother and I
Walked the hot train-rails: We scoured
Our packs, announcing prodigious rookie
Cards, cursing duplicate managers.
Tomorrow's for tasting my first cigarette
At a funeral the day Rose passed Cobb.
(Some poetry writes itself.)
The cards cut into the top-knuckle
Of my middle finger. Entranced, I filed
And only felt the injury distantly—
An athlete in full adrenaline stride.
The science of labor is blood; the red,
Thin line along the rectangle ridges
Is just another crease, another worth
I consider in terms
Of dirt. As where the pitcher hides a curve
Between his lips and his mitt. Where the balls
Come whistling hot off the bat and Ozzie Smith
Turned flips. I consider in terms of grass.
As where I dug up worms with a cleat-toe
And waited for a lefty who could hit
To right-field. Where better boys beside me
Spat, grabbed undescended crotches, chattered
At the batter, hey batter, hey batter,
And the batter in the box would swing.
You can graph our dwindling interest
As stacks become shallower. You can guess
What other hobbies came along, how sweet
The batted lashes of girls gaining flesh.
Part time jobs for the purchase of pendants
And matching earrings. Full-time jobs
For the fueling of last-leg cars.
The paucity of nineteen-ninety-fours
Should come as no surprise.
Two thousand cards
Still checker the floor: the poses of farm-
League fodder—quasi-immortalized stint
In the Bigs, the unglossed gloss of stats
On flip-sides—last year's hits and RBI,
A whole career of strikeouts and steals.