One Final Inning in St. Louis

One Final Inning in St. Louis

Heads down, we stare at our ticket stubs,
walk in circles, anxious
to find our seats in Busch Stadium.

Above the beer man hawking Budweiser,
amid the scent of salty baked pretzels
and homer dogs, I imagine Tom Hanks
repeating, There’s no crying in baseball.

Too late—
My tears erupt with a glimpse of the green,
the outfield manicured in its familiar
crisscross checkerboard pattern, a backdrop
for the grass-embossed Gateway Arch.

One might think I was there to watch
my son play in the World Series,
or I myself, a ten-year-old child
who just caught a fly-ball off McGuire.

I walk alongside my dad,
to share a hotdog and a moment,
to revisit one of my favorite childhood memories.
My hope is for more days, more years,
even though I know it to be …

well … unlikely.

For the first time, my dad splurges
on the good seats, cushy and comfortable,
just a few rows up between home plate and first base,
the ones you pay extra for
—the ones that tonight are

Four batters into the first inning,
Holliday hits a homerun.
We watch the pyrotechnic celebration.
I look at my dad. He’s smiling.
And in that moment,
squeezing his hand,
I know.

Any pain plaguing his cancer-riddled bones
has vanished,
with the embers I watch float down
like flashing pinwheels in a purple sky.

And it is my heart
with fireworks.

(First published in Verse-Virtual, July 2016)

About Shawn Aveningo-Sanders

Shawn Aveningo-Sanders is the author of What She Was Wearing, an inspirational book of poetry/prose that reveals her #metoo secret—from survival to empowerment. Shawn’s poetry has appeared globally in over 150 literary journals and anthologies. She’s a Pushcart nominee, Best of the Net nominee, co-founder of The Poetry Box® press, as well as managing editor for The Poeming Pigeon.

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