Self-Portrait as Sacrifice on the Diamond
by Thomas B. Richardson
Batter baptized in pine tar strides toward plate
while shoe-polished eyes find brother stranded.
This batter knows how his brief appearance must end,
yet he hoists ash bat above shoulder and
scratches cleated toe through red Georgia clay—
dig and tap, scrape and spit.
He squares, a giveaway, and corners rush in
to seize the ten-foot offering our batter has
deadened down the line, his stirruped legs churning
toward a destination he is not allowed to reach.
He smiles at ump’s rejection; brother is safe.
Metrics scorn the bunt, tell us it’s a fool’s errand—
a waste of quick-twitch skill to lay one down for
only a chance at later reward. But the numbers
cannot feel the dirt-diamond hope that moves
in all of us, begs us to trust that the one who
comes behind will be the one to move us forward.
Praise God for the bunt, and for every sacrifice
and squeeze that pushes us toward home.
Thomas B. Richardson is from Columbus, Mississippi, where he has been teaching English at New Hope High School since 2011. He received a BA in religious studies from Millsaps College in 2008, before moving to Nashville, Tennessee, where he received a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School. Richardson returned home to Columbus to complete a Master of Arts in Teaching at Mississippi University for Women, and he is currently enrolled in MUW’s newly established MFA program. His poetry often focuses on teaching and learning, religion and the South. Other writing interests include new media, humor and sports journalism.