Coach

baseball-chalk

I chalked the foul line from home to first,
but spotted him before I reached the edge
of outfield grass.
………………………… He stood alone atop
the roll of infield tarp and leaned against
the fence. He tipped his cap, the tattered bill
moved just enough to shift its shadow down
from lip to chin and back.
…………………………………… “Hey coach!” I said,
“You lookin’ for something?”
…………………………………….. “Yeah.” His eyes
surveyed the field from first to third, then home.
“A day from long ago. A day a lot
like this. A bunch of kids were here to play.”

“The kids will come. The game is not ‘til two.”
I stepped away, then back. “I played for you.”

He looked at me and squinted. “Me? For me?”

“The Tigers. I was 12. My dad said I
should play for you because he said you knew.”

“That right?” He looked again at me and said,
“You pitched. You had a wicked curve I told
you not to throw because you’d wreck your arm.”

“Oh I remember – can’t believe that you do, though.
You know, for years I tried to figure out
what Dad was sure you knew. I never could.”

“Did you have fun?”
……………………………. “The most I ever had.”

“Do you remember games we won and lost?”

I paused to think. “I’m sorry. No. I can’t.
The truth is, mostly I recall the guys.”

He nodded. “And do you love the game today?”

I laughed. “It’s why I’m out here chalking lines.
You never made a cent as coach and not
a thing has changed.” I gasped. “My dad was right:
You knew! You knew, and I just got it now.”

He smiled and shrugged. “We dads and coaches — we
get lucky now and then. Now go play ball.”

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