Tag Archives: Yankees

The King of Frederick Street

Note: As the Yankees and Red Sox square off for the first time this endless pandemic summer, I’m reminded of a poem from my 2013 book 20 Poems & Other Translations from the English, which is about my father’s last visit to Virginia. He was afraid to leave his wife, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, for too long, but he spent a week with us and it was wonderful. It was also the last time we watched a Yankees game together until the month he would die, last July. So just a nod to my dad that I’m still watching.

The King of Frederick Street

Almost eighty, my father is surrounded
by my children, their dogs and cats
while wrestling a Solitaire game whose battery

will not seem to die. We set a folding chair
on our elevated patch of lawn
where the maple’s shadow slows and slurs

across his feet, sliding up the grass
to the house like an instant replay
of a baserunner sliding past him safely home.

It takes an hour, but now he rests in the sun.
The King of Frederick Street, we call him,
sitting on a lawn above car level on the high

side of this crooked hill, watching cars
go by, too fast, he notes, for a street
with children. Seven hundred

miles to the north his wife does not remember
most of while she’s loved. Still, him she loves
and recognizes four times a week,

musses his hair and strokes his nose and laughs,
and now does not beg to be released.
From love and parenthood there’s no escape,

also no home safe to slide past and drag
a hand across the plate just beneath
Death’s late tag. Though I can see him

try to calculate the odds, the angry focus
like leading off third, game on the line.
Pop–the Yankees are on at eight. He’ll come

Then, pick up that infernal Solitaire game
and we’ll play it side by side on the couch,
stand for the anthem and work the count

as innings race by in slow motion.
I glance across the thirty year gap
And know the years will thin;

Meanwhile, we sit, and compete
at who’s best at being alone.
He wins and wins.

Tea Ceremonies

Tea Ceremonies

 

Maybe aged twelve, I started staying up past 11
watching the local news with my dad
cup of tea and the Yankees score the daily last things

Tea that late never kept me awake
it was for time with my father
and learning tomorrow’s weather

In my dorm at college it attracted curiosity
people started coming to my room at eleven
arriving with mugs steaming coming to see the day done

One winter night we took it outside
into the courtyard in a snow flurry
three dozen students in flannel

pajamas sweatpants boots and mugs
spelling out T-E-A in giant letters
not a protest just a confirmation

atypical for that time and age
Tonight we talk after the kids are asleep
while you bathe I make you tea

which we take upstairs to our room
where last night a strange green insect
watched me from the windowsill

while I drank tea and wrote
about a dream and slept by you
awoke to today an empty cup to fill