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By Amy Munno

On the dark top shelf of my closet
a large cardboard box overflows
with baseball cards from 1986,
still sealed in original plastic,
pristine packs, the price tags stuck to the top.
My cousin and I, fifteen, feeling lucky,
bought up the wax wrappers, carefully peeling them
back like gently shifting the clothes off
a new lover to find out what you've invested in.
Snapping the stale pink sticks in our mouths,
we lined up rookies like savings bonds,
recorded their values on notebook paper,
and slipped them into plastic sheets
for a long safe sleep.

Now I drive my cousin crazy with my cardboard box.
"Open them," he chides. "Carpe diem
cash them in." But there's something
he doesn't understand, something he missed
when he sold his cards—the Goodens
for his drunken Bahamas trip, the Strawberrys
for his drugs, the McGwires for his car
that has long since died.

There are moments that continue to accrue,
the times he and I crouched for hours
in the drugstore, bubble gum breath
in each other's faces, waxy film
under our nails as we shuffled out
the regular players from the bad poker hand,
praying like tiny monks that the one card
we needed would reveal itself divinely
at the bottom of the pack.

These memories of him,
the old ones before life got hard,
I've wrapped these up,
grouped the good,
put them away.


AMY MUNNO has rooted for the Yankees since 1976. She is a managing editor in academic publishing and holds an M.A. in English, writing. Her unopened packs of baseball cards remain in the dark recesses of her New Jersey closet.

© 2003 Amy Munno


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