Because there’s a word, there’s a way to wonder
if any of our group shagging baseballs
all spring might not have been a girl at all
but a hybrid cultivar. Micki and Jackie
resembled twin ponies, palomino
manes like vanilla frosting. Ruddy Turnstones,
Sal and Les tumbled through the neighborhood,
grandstanding for screams. We all wanted to be
boys then, to serve the Power whom we knew
found delight in our swinging from trees.
We wanted to serve the one god of joy
in the body and wreck ourselves at the altar
of summer nights on the city stoop, our shaped parts
sprouting overnight as we slept, changelings.
Sometimes I chose the hard singularity
of the young liege, honor-bound even in defeat.
To the armor and scabbard I cleaved,
make-believe punishments a drubbing I took
to prove my manliness, my worthiness.
Sometimes I starred in my own
Midsummer Count and reamed myself
a handsome specimen in bright plumage,
recognizable on the wing, most numerous
in early June when my kind crossed natural barriers.