by Joe Aires

          For the first time, he runs toward Spring.
          Each step, a squish of mud and fire.

          His expression blends fear and determination.

          The baseball dies in a No Man's Land
          between the coach and his mitt.

          "Charge the ball, David," the coach implores
          Charge the ball, my thoughts echo.

          He walks toward the ball with caution,
          as if he can sense the imaginary sniper
          that murdered his intentions
          twenty feet shy of second base.

          I can hear the click-clack
          of his mental abacus:
          Get ball
          Glove Down
          Don't Miss!

          They drill grounders for fifteen minutes.
          "Charge the ball" lives in the air like
          hummingbird elusive math theorem.
          He never reaches a solution.

          The Coaches call a shift in the drills.
          Coach Grounder points him towards home plate
          and he hydroplanes for the diamond.
          There is fresh mud to spatter.
          The joyous promise of aluminum might.
          Fielding practice and its trials
          are so much flattened grass and laughter.

          But I still hear the click-clack,
          counting the steps,
          of a run towards Spring.


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