my father was an umpire
in his words –
“a god between the foul lines”
his was an empirical stance-
not afforded to many in their day to day

i had not played a real baseball
game in fourteen years. my younger
brother was on the roster for a team
in the local beer league,
and since he couldn’t make it to the
next game,
and since I shared his last name,
would I be interested in filling
the roster spot? they were facing the prospect
of forfeit if I did not take the place of him
to field nine.

i agreed, expectations of success driving my
train of thought. Mark agreed to drive us to the game,
after all-I was doing him a favor by pretending
to be my younger brother, as he was himself.
It was a huge mistake.

as I warmed up in deep right field,
the team’s manager asked me as “Jeremy” which positions I could play.
“2nd Base, and both corner outfield positions” was my simple reply.
acquiescence to the most basic need of a any baseball team is paramount.
I began to long toss in the outfield to stretch out my arm-
in case I was to play there.
i then saw the umpire call our manager over
for a pre-game conference.

the umpire informed our manager that any player
entering the field who was not eligible to play
would result in a forfeit for that team.
my own father was taking the last chance of playing baseball from me
on a technicality. It was his adherence to the rules.

i was relegated to picking up
bats in the on deck circle
for nine innings, coming within feet of my father
without a mere nod

after the game, as I changed cleats to shoes,
he passed by the car I had arrived in
without a glance askew
it was the last time I saw him alive

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