by Denise Alden
– “It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball.” Billy Beane
El Duque’s knee brushed his ear
during his wind-up like a yogi,
Ichiro floated like Baryshnikov
as he caught fly balls in right field,
and one rainy night at the Metrodome,
Zeus himself punctuated
each of Santana’s strikeouts.
The math has always been beautiful:
the threes, the nines, the thirds.
Outs, strikes, players, innings:
the asymmetry of odd numbers
striving for perfection.
We fell in love with one another
and that collection of broken toys,
those players from the Bay,
on a starless, moon bright night.
We fell in love with each other,
along with the club-footed pitcher,
the fat catcher, the designated hitter
who couldn’t run, the underdog,
the unappreciated, the overlooked,
the underestimated, the unwanted,
the refugee, the black sheep,
the misfit, the marginalized,
the oddball, the broken,
the injured, the wounded,
the off-center, the off-kilter,
the transgressive and the transgressed.
All romances belie ugly truths.
Satchel Page never played
in the Majors, and white-hot hate bloodied
Jackie Robinson into an early grave.
We decided against diamonds,
chose a peridot instead;
in the right light it’s the color
of the field long before the game begins.
We say ‘diamond,’
but it’s really just a square
on its pointy side, isn’t it?
We said ‘I do,’
with our heads cocked,
smiles wide on our stupid,