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Childhood Fantasy

by Greg Grant

I see a flamingo on a lawn
and I think of Luis Tiant--
how he'd stand on the mound,
a short, squat shaman.
He'd stare intensely at the catcher
and get the sign.
Suddenly the magicdance would begin.
Raring up on one leg, a dumpy crane,
spinning halfway to face second base
and whoosh--
the ball came out of nowhere
right to the corner of the plate.
It didn't matter that he pitched for the "other" team.
I sat in front of the television bewitched.

I imagined myself the batter,
hitting .400 and leading the league in RBI
(anyone can hit home runs, but the clutch hitters
clear the ducks off the pond).
I would adjust my helmet,
hike up my pants,
fix my glove,
check my grip,
and finally step into the batter's box,
ready for anything.
Luis Tiant would stare intensely,
and I'd know I was in for trouble.
Suddenly, he's facing second base
and I can read the number on his back
and then it's too late.
The catcher has the ball.
I trudge to the bench,
Hoping I'll get him the next time.

I used to stand in fromt of the mirror
and imitate Luis Tiant
when nobody else was around.
I had it down.
I had what it took.
Front porches became my home plate,
and I would stop my bicycle,
rubberband the newspaper
and stare intensely at the doormat.
The doormat knew it was in trouble.
The windup--
the pitch--
The Rengerts will never find their paper in the hedge.

I toss the paper on the porch,
get on my bicycle and move on,
knowing that next time
I would achieve greatness.
Crowds of fans would cheer me on
as I struck out baseball's greatest
Then, running our of papers,
the game would be over, a shutout.
And I would ride the team bus back to the hotel,
knowing that I would have to save the day again,

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