Elegy to My Grandmother’s Husband

Since I've heard your voice and seen you,

Grandpa, most of my life has passed,

and though forever out of reach,

a long-ball gone beyond the fence,

I feel your presence still, with me

like the cryptic scent of neatsfoot 

leather on my glove hand, red dirt

beneath the nails of my right, grass stained

knees, and the easy feel of a clean hit.

It's true I was afraid when you were drunk

on Early Times, shot straight in the morning,

highball glass on your TV tray at night

with me in Grandma's lap as darkness grew,

but that is only shadow at the edge

of light that is my memory of you.

I remember how you gave my catcher's

mitt to me. You bought it new, but I could

feel and smell you’d rubbed it up, worked it in.

I see now when you held it in your arms

like a baby just before you placed it

on my hand, and taught me the signs,

how to make a pitcher trust his pitch,

to catch a curve, and marshal the infield;

showed me heart and head of the catcher's job,

and how you loved the game. I never saw

you catch, throw, field, or hit but I feel now

as if that mitt was yours and when

I do good things and do them well

I am finishing up the game for you.