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Babe Ruth: Those Long Nights Until
By William Snyder Jr.

One morning, Brother Matthias, crucifix hard
and gold around his neck, waits for us to climb
the dormitory steps, for Poppa to give me over.

Rows of iron beds, blue blankets lumping up,
windows black–no light in this long, dark room.
Awake, I jam the soft, leather fingers, mold
a pocket with my fist, wait for tomorrow–
the books, the canvas and cotton, the clatter
of needles and steel. And balls, stripings
of lime, patches of grass, and on top
of the pebble-pocked mound, staring down
at the catcher's squat, I see the future,
and my crotch and thighs and my cheek-veins
swell with craw.

Finally morning. An orange sky, the sun
a dull, red sucker rising through
the eastside smoke, the smells from the cow yards
already. Behind the schoolhouse bricks,
Mrs. Neally plunges sheets into copper tubs.
"Babe," she calls, "it's the babe." I want to see
my mother.



WILLIAM SNYDER JR.'s poems have been published or are forthcoming in Puerto Del Sol, Apalachee Quarterly, Southern Humanities Review, The Dalhousie Review, and The Midwest Quarterly. He teaches writing and literature at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.

© 2000 William Snyder Jr.


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