Closer

By Alan Shapiro

Featured Art by William A. Harper

How the great closer—when the batter lunged
and swung through the curve for strike three—
turned his back to the plate as if there were no batter,
and his one concession to the moment
(that there even was a moment) was
to hitch one shoulder as if to shrug off
a slight annoyance while his face unbothered
by expression measured its mastery by what
it wouldn’t feel, or show, was like and not like us,
our faces, lips, how, when I tried to kiss yours,
they shut tight against what up to then, it seemed,
they’d opened to so eagerly I never thought

they ever wouldn’t or imagined you might ever
turn away not just as if I wasn’t there but
never had been. And weren’t we, maybe, like
the batter too, and not, the way he flipped the bat and
caught it and as he strolled back to the dugout,
holding the bat up, seemed to study it
with such rabbinical amazement
you could almost think he’d failed on purpose
so he could finally see within the bat
whatever lack the bat, not knowing it was lacking,
had hidden in the grain to show him now.


Alan Shapiro has two books of poetry forthcoming; Proceed to Check Out, from University of Chicago Press in 2022, and By and By, from the Waywiser Press (England) in 2023.

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