Spent the day with my grandson,
took him to the baseball game
and showed him how they play over here;
Here, where it’s not cricket and cream teas,
but hot dogs, coke and dusty diamonds.
Taught him all the words that frame the game
and that made him sound cool when he spoke them,
and the other kids looked at him and smiled
like they understood, like he was one of us.
We walked up the hillside, behind second base
where the grass is left to grow tall,
and I showed him how to pull a straw, suck on it
and chew the end, getting all the sweet goodness out,
letting the wispy fronds hang down like a half-woken flag,
too hot and too humid to raise itself and wave.
Bought him a piece of bubble gum and watched him chew,
saying with a wink, it might be best not to tell your Mummy
about this, seeing as she pays the dentist bills,
and then I showed him how to blow a bubble
and slap that darned gum all over his face.
And we each took a blade of grassleaf and I showed him
how to hold it – real taut – between his thumbs
and keep them stood straight together, side by side,
and we blew until the screeching whistles made us jump,
and then his sounded like one of his Daddy’s farts.
Boy, you should ha’ seen his smile.
I could have canned his giggle and kept it
for cheering me up on lonely days.
When he stood up, leaned over and spit,
just like the pitcher and the other big boys,
I suggested that was one habit he might not want
to bring home to England from America.
They wouldn’t think it was too cool over there,
and he could even get arrested for doing it in public.
His eyes grew big and round, wondering if I was just
‘pulling his leg,’ another american turn of phrase,
but I didn’t see him spit anymore, and he sort of stared
under heavy, shaded brows every time he saw
one of those boys lean over and spit, as if
he was trying to figure out for himself why
they kept committing crimes in public.
I hoped I wasn’t confusing him too much.
After the long, hot day that passed in record time,
and after he turned the bath water brown,
I wrapped him up in a fluffy big towel,
held him on my lap, sitting on the porch rocker
and we sang the take me out to the ballgame song,
and his eyelids started to hang heavy, and I thought
I’d better get him inside and put his pj’s on,
before he’s too heavy with sleep to carry.
But then his eyes opened wide; he squirmed
and pulled his clean arm out of the towel wrappings.
He looked up into the sky, a sky that wasn’t quite sure
if it was finished for the day, cause it was still hanging on to the blue,
and the moon was rising up like it had places to go tonight,
and my grandson pointed to it, and he said,
“Look, Grannie Cindy, there’s a fly ball!”
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