Legacy Nursing Home

Today I remind my father that he played college baseball with Tom Tresh, who went on to be the A.L. Rookie of the Year for the 1963 Yankees.

THE YEAR I WAS BORN, I say loudly.    

DO YOU REMEMBER THE NAMES WE PICKED IN INDIAN GUIDES? I ask.

He stares out the window. I stare out the window, too.

I WAS STRAIGHT ARROW, I say to the window. WEREN'T YOU BENT ARROW?

My father darkens. He rolls over in bed, turns his back and faces the wall.

Visiting hours are over.

He and I sit alone again at the small table by the brown coffee dispenser in the dining room of the memory care unit, where in a few weeks God will walk to the mound to ask for the ball and gently remove my father from the game. Until then, my father is wearing his cowboy hat and his tan windbreaker. His lips move and he doesn’t want to look at me. His knees bounce like he’s ready to steal second. He still has hair as thick as Pete Rose, and it covers his ears and hangs long at the back of his cowboy hat.

The last days of Bent Arrow. Of old, lost Charlie Hustle. With the hair as white as cocaine.

Bird Report

{A woodpecker—red-bellied?—scales the tree outside my office window like a telephone lineman. Cleated feet and a neck like a snapping turtle that stretches to probe the bark to its left or right without moving its body.}

For Wendell Berry: To be a witness to the violence of the fallen world is only a matter of shifting one's attention. The woodpecker finds something to eat, and I swear, Father Wendell, I watch it eat it in chattery tremors of swallowing, the bird's head convulsing like an electrocuted lineman’s might.