The Seventh Inning

By Donald Hall b. 1928 Donald Hall
1.   Baseball, I warrant, is not the whole   
occupation of the aging boy.
Far from it: There are cats and roses;   
there is her water body. She fills
the skin of her legs up, like water;   
under her blouse, water assembles,   
swelling lukewarm; her mouth is water,   
her cheekbones cool water; water flows   
in her rapid hair. I drink water

2.   from her body as she walks past me   
to open a screen door, as she bends   
to weed among herbs, or as she lies   
beside me at five in the morning   
in submarine light. Curt Davis threw   
a submarine ball, terrifying
to right-handed batters. Another   
pleasure, thoroughly underrated,   
is micturition, which is even

3.   commoner than baseball. It begins   
by announcing itself more slowly   
and less urgently than sexual
desire, but (confusingly) in the
identical place. Ignorant men
therefore on occasion confuse beer-
drinking with love; but I have discussed   
adultery elsewhere. We allow
this sweet release to commence itself,

4.   addressing a urinal perhaps,   
perhaps poised over a white toilet   
with feet spread wide and head tilted back:   
oh, what’delicious permission! what   
luxury of letting go! what luxe   
yellow curve of mildest ecstasy!   
Granted we may not compare it to   
poignant and crimson bliss, it is as   
voluptuous as rain all night long

5.   after baseball in August’s parch. The   
jade plant’s trunk, as thick as a man’s wrist,   
urges upward thrusting from packed dirt,   
with Chinese vigor spreading limbs out   
that bear heavy leaves—palpable, dark,   
juicy, green, profound: They suck, the way   
bleacher fans claim inhabitants of
box seats do. The Fourth of July we   
exhaust stars from sparklers in the late

6.   twilight. We swoop ovals of white-gold   
flame, making quick signatures against
an imploding dark. The five-year-old   
girl kisses the young dog goodbye and   
chases the quick erratic kitten.   
When she returns in a few years as   
a tall shy girl, she will come back to   
a dignified spreading cat and a
dog ash-gray on the muzzle. Sparklers

7.   expel quickly this night of farewell:   
If they didn’t burn out, they wouldn’t   
be beautiful. Kurt, may I hazard   
an opinion on expansion? Last
winter meetings, the major leagues (al-
ready meager in ability,
scanty in starting pitchers) voted
to add two teams. Therefore minor league   
players will advance all too quickly,

8.   with boys in the bigs who wouldn’t have   
made double-A forty years ago.
Directors of player personnel
will search like poets scrambling in old   
notebooks for unused leftover lines,
but when was the last time anyone
cut back when he or she could expand?   
Kurt, I get the notion that you were
another who never discarded

9.   anything, a keeper from way back.   
You smoked cigarettes, in inflation-
times rolled from chopped-up banknotes, billions   
inhaled and exhaled as cancerous   
smoke. When commerce woke, Men was awake.   
If you smoked a cigar, the cigar   
band discovered itself glued into   
collage. Ongoing life became the   
material of Kurtschwittersball.

Donald Hall, “The Seventh Inning” from The Museum of Clear Ideas. Copyright © 1993 by Donald Hall. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: The Museum of Clear Ideas (1993)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Donald Hall b. 1928

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Sports & Outdoor Activities, Activities

 Donald  Hall

Biography

Donald Hall is considered one of the major American poets of his generation. His poetry explores the longing for a more bucolic past and reflects the poet’s abiding reverence for nature. Although Hall gained early success with his first collection, Exiles and Marriages (1955), his more recent poetry is generally regarded as the best of his career. Often compared favorably with such writers as James Dickey, Robert Bly, and James . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Sports & Outdoor Activities, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.