by Robert Manaster

Out there beside the crabapple’s shade,
the tyranny of balls, bats, and yells
haunted me somewhat less than if I was closer.
I heard a truck grumble down the gravel road,
and when I turned, a herd of dust
took to the wobbly heat above its path.

In front of trees in their darkest
greenest foliage, a picket fence
leaned forward amid weeds
and tall grass— the tops of which
teasingly brushed against
the weather-worn wood. 

Other directions drowned in plains
of grass, weed, wind, and cricket calls.
Out there in the terrible heat,
bird shadows reeled overhead.
I was cast into this field like a worm.

No one noticed me, thank god—
no one would have cared
if I lay down in nearby shade, grass blades
tickling my temples— no one
would have cared if balls out-of-nowhere
                                                     dropped like crabapples

beside me, onto me, off me— out there,
I was close among the needless, the never-to-be seen—
Out there, it didn’t matter when the game ended.

Robert Manaster’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals including Rosebud, Birmingham Poetry Review, Image, Maine Review, Into the Void, and Spillway. His co-translation of Ronny Someck’s The Milk Underground was awarded the Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation. He’s also published poetry book reviews in such publications as Rattle, Colorado Review, and Massachusetts Review.