Jon Medders

Why We Throw Things

At fifteen, in summer heat, nothing beat
gripping the twin red seams of a baseball,
rocking back, using the geometry of my body
to whiff it, shadow-like, past the batter's swing. 

Now thirty, I study a snapshot from Jerusalem
of a young teen in the middle of his own pitch.   
Brown eyes squinting behind a wrinkly black mask, 
He wears a dirty hoodie, blue jeans, tired sneakers.  

In bright uniform, tight pants, cleats, I stood 
on a red clay mound amid dust, white lines, bases,
sounds of birds, wind, popcorn, and parents cheering
with passion seldom heard elsewhere in America. 

He stands on soot amid concrete buildings,
broken windows, black graffiti, orders
shouted by the enemy, rumbles of traffic,
and the steadfast smog of a war that doesn't end. 

The young Palestinian's intentions aside, 
Coach would have approved of his form:  
Right leg raised behind him, right arm following through, 
he's close to falling as he watches the fate of his throw.

Could it be that the flash of exhilaration he feels 
when his rock clanks against the Israeli tank 
is the same species of emotion I felt
when the umpire pumped his fist and cried out, "Str-ike!"?

—Jon Medders

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