OK, I admit it. I’m not much of a baseball fan, though I did grow up around it. My father was a longtime Brooklyn Dodgers, and then Mets fan, always rooting for the underdog. My brother went on to enjoy taking his sons to the stadium for games, but I never caught the bug.

When I was young and played stickball in the street or kickball on the playground, I enjoyed the excitement of running, stretching my muscles, always hoping for that big play. But watching team sports seemed pale in comparison to actually participating. Maybe I’d have felt differently if my boys had been involved in baseball, but their interests lay in other directions.

Still, there is something about baseball that seems cleaner and more cultured than the rough-and-tumble of football. A summer day seems an entirely apt place for the game where, hot dog in hand, you can feel the heat beating on your head and smell a rich green in the air. Even listening to it on the radio, it carries a tone of relaxation.

Today’s poem is a narrative poem, and it tells a mostly true story from Kristen Lindquist’s life. The poem, “How Baseball Saved My Marriage,” comes from Kristin’s book “Transportation,” published by Megunticook Press in 2011. It’s a memorable poem and one that was recently featured on Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac.”

In talking about this poem, Kristen notes, “It was such a beautiful late summer evening, still light after dinner, that instead of heading back south toward home, I drove north for a while along the Penobscot River and beyond, just to savor the light and hopefully see some migrating nighthawks.” She’s an avid bird lover, so it’s easy to understand her desire to see those creatures. Along with music on the car radio, she developed a sense of euphoria and freedom, thinking she could drive forever. But she also wanted to hear the Red Sox game that night and was afraid she would drive beyond the range of the radio station that was broadcasting the game. So she turned around.

She didn’t lose that peaceful feeling, though. “My ride home was great, too, because it was a good game and I was heading home to my husband, whom I do love…but I titled the poem as I did to introduce a note of doubt, a little frisson to the situation.”

Kristen wonders if the appeal of this poem doesn’t lie in “that momentary desire to start our lives anew…or because we’ve all experienced that euphoria that makes everything around us glow.” Read the poem. See if that feeling doesn’t come through for you.

How Baseball Saved My Marriage

One happy hour drink in Orono and now I’m driving

up the Penobscot just for kicks, past the bridge to Indian Island,

past the just-closed Georgia Pacific plant, tidy yards

of Milford, “Place of a Million Parts” junkyard,

the drink still warm in my belly, the strong, true edge of things

 

glowing with rich clarity in the late summer, late afternoon light.

Dylan’s tangled up in blue on the radio, dozens of migrating

nighthawks flit over fields along the river, crickets shrill

in tall grass, window draft tickles my tan shoulders.

Later tonight, the Red Sox will win with another Big Papi

 

walk-off homer that will make me whoop to myself in the car.

But for now, I’m moving through Olamon, Passadumkeag,

away from the river, into the woods. It’s the end of a long day,

but there still seems to be plenty of time and road ahead.

Something about the light, the beauty of the sky, makes me think

I should keep going right on to northern Maine, all the way

to Canada. I could just keep driving all night, potato fields

north of Houlton balancing the dark outside my car windows,

lights across the St. John beckoning me over the border.

I’ve got a full tank of gas, credit cards in my wallet. I could

 

drive all the way to Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island,

stay in some quaint inn on a craggy coast, walk low beaches

in search of sandpipers heading south from the Arctic.

How far north do roads go? But it grows late, shadows deepen,

and so far from home, I realize I don’t know the station

 

broadcasting tonight’s game. So it’s finally baseball

that curbs my sudden wanderlust. It’s the simple pleasure

of a good game coming up that makes me turn around

to re-enter the bubble of radio reception, to start

the long drive back to everything familiar and well-loved.

 

If you enjoy reading this column, I hope you’ll come and say hello to me. I’ll be at The Belfast Art Market at Waterfall Arts on Friday, July 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., along with other writers selling our wares at a booth called “Locally Grown Books.” It would be great fun to see some of you in person!