“Sunday League” by Daniel Romo

for Jason

As men age, we wear gray in our beards like 
	 an errant fastball to the ribs 
    that escaped the pitcher’s hand
because we’ve learned not to rub it
and acknowledge the pain 
no matter how hard the hurt 
			we absorb.

I’ve had my share of traumatic, post-game at-bats 
and the satisfaction in getting on base from a hit 
vs. four wayward pitches 
is sweeter because earning your way 
is always greater than being 
rewarded for another man’s 

We play games of some sort all our lives 
because guys like us have DNA composed of 
adrenaline and competitiveness, 
and I’ll bet even though my knees 
may disagree,
I can still run down any fly ball
and get down for any grounder 
I failed to field in my past.

	your name means healer,
	and I still recall the way you used to 
	walk to the mound from behind the plate 
	to tell your pitcher to simply relax 
	as if your reassuring words 
	cured the flatness of his curve,
	the unsteadiness of his nerves. 

There will come a day when we, too, 
play our last game in this life—
rounding third,
deciding if we should take our chances 
and stand up,
or if we need to slide 
and pray
our way 
	into home.

Daniel Romo is the author of Bum Knees and Grieving Sunsets (FlowerSong Press 2023), Moonlighting as an Avalanche (Tebot Bach 2021), Apologies in Reverse (FutureCycle Press 2019), and other books. His writing and photography can be found in The Los Angeles Review, Yemassee, Hotel Amerika, and elsewhere. He received an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, and he lives, teaches, and rides his bikes in Long Beach, CA. More at danieljromo.com.