Monday, June 29, 2009

John Updike Poetry on a Rainy Monday!

By John Updike: "Baseball"

It looks easy from a distance,easy and lazy, even, until you stand up to the plateand see the fastball sailing inside, an inch from your chin,or circle in the outfield straining to get a beadon a small black dota city block or more high,a dark star that could fallon your head like a leaden meteor.

The grass, the dirt, the deadly hopsbetween your feet and overeager glove: football can be learned,and basketball finessed, butthere is no hiding from baseballthe fact that some are chosenand some are not—those whose mittsfeel too left-handed,who are scared at third baseof the pulled line drive, and at first base are scaredof the shortstop's wild throwthat stretches you out like a gutted deer.

There is nowhere to hide when the ball's spotlight swivels your way,and the chatter around you falls still,and the mothers on the sidelines,your own among them, hold their breaths,and you whiff on a terrible pitchor in the infield achievesomething with the ball soridiculous you blush for years.It's easy to do. Baseball wasinvented in America, where beneath the good cheer and sly jazz the chance of failure is everybody's right, beginning with baseball.

"Baseball" by John Updike, from Endpoint and Other Poems. © Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. Reprinted with permission.