a literary review
Grover Powell came to dinner
Powell is a certain type of baseball legend—
the meteorite hurler who smokes batters
and whose brilliance somehow demands
that he fade into obscurity and tragedy
as fast as he arrived – The Pennsylvania Gazette
When the corn got high enough
to hide in & the garden swelled,
it meant Grover might stop by,
our knees on the porch swing
grazing wicker couch, screens
holding us in, buzz of houseflies
& the smell of hayfields down
the road. Why didn’t we play
ball in the backyard with him?
Instead, his drawl as if he was
a southern boy when he was young
not just like us, hemmed in by farms,
the river lazing over the back hill.
Grover who came for dinner
every summer sat & laughed with us,
never talked baseball, just tipped his
glass a bit, smiled his wry smile.
There was a swing to his stories –
he & Uncle Richard ramming around
the countryside & all the trouble
they got in. We knew he played ball
like we knew potatoes grew under
the apple trees. Not a memory really,
just that haze of light through leaves,
when summer fixes its spell on you,
& you love even what you
do not know. How when Casey
Stengel called him up from the minors,
late August 1963, Grover pitched
a shut-out for the Mets– the day you
turned 5. The only game he ever won.
with thanks to Rebecca M. Meluch
author of Strength and Honor
We’ll prepare for winter now forever.
Bring the lambs & bags of hickory nuts, jugs
of syrup from the sugar maple. Tiny hammers, tiny
jars of currant jelly. Let’s bring nostalgia & the fox-
hounds, if there’s room. We had to leave the barn
behind, the mamma sheep. Let them forage
in the back ravine while the war goes on. Maybe
they’ll survive the bobcats & the bears. Granny looks
like Jesus now. Bring on her stewed tomatoes,
Dad’s smoked fish. This spaceship’s like our brother’s
geodome & all he taught us for survival. God,
what holds the ship together, what it runs on.
Dad’s jacket smells like woodsmoke. We still
sing hymns & lick the pie plate. Granny writes
a sermon for each day, delivers it for cast & crew
with doilies & lace curtains on the windows.
Where is our hearthstone? What hive is this?
While strength & honor vaporizes, we’re stuck
with only what we knew, not sure if we are wolf
or hound. And what will win a war fought
in the skies when we can only think of fields
& woods out back, the way trees moan when
wind picks up & tassels wave up on the ridge.
Ellen Stone advises Poetry Club at Community High School and co-hosts a monthly poetry series, Skazat! in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems have appeared recently in Halfway Down the Stairs, Mantis, Switchback, The Citron Review, Pretty Owl Poetry and in the anthology, Choice Words: Writers on Abortion. Ellen is the author of What Is in the Blood (Mayapple Press, 2020) and The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart prize and Best of the Net. Ellen can be reached at ellenstone.org.