Fourth base by Sean Lause


Our diamond was gold and soft as rosin,
good for sliding,
yet for every run we made we nearly died.

For our diamond had a single flaw,
a fourth base no one ever touched,
but each had to pass on the way to glory.

I loved the sure, straight lines,
the sweet smell of my pitcher’s glove,
the sound of crickets written through the grass.

The rules we knew by heart,
but when you passed that fourth base,
you crossed yourself twice or you died.

A perfect line, invisible but there,
to St. Gerard’s fire escape, where
Mary Croix hanged herself in mystery.

That was fourth base.

Still I return here, late at night,
when moonlight wounds my heart to memory,
cross myself, forgive that metal skeleton,
then walk the bases, one by one,
those high and hopeful errands we once ran
that seemed to forever promise home.