Ninety MPH

Two boys line up against each other.
One on the pitcher’s mound.
The other in the batter’s box.

Sixty feet six inches
takes point four seconds from the release
of the ball from the pitcher’s hand

to reflect light waves to the batter’s eye
as it rises high and tight
heading for his chin.

It is a message sent about territorial possession
and who really owns the batter’s box
and its chalk lines.

The batter has point two five seconds
to process the ball in flight
and decide whether to swing

let the ball pass into the catcher’s mitt
or get his face out of the way
of the spinning white sphere with red seams.

If the batter is in the slightest way distracted
his motor flight response jerks his limbs
a little too late

and the ball imprints its seams
on his cheek or jaw
or (if he is lucky) his helmet

and the crowd’s collective breath holds
an astonished note as dust rises and settles
to see if the batter does the same.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney