Old Man Throwing a Ball

By David Baker b. 1954 David Baker
He is tight at first, stiff, stands there atilt
tossing the green fluff tennis ball down
the side alley, but soon he’s limber,
he’s letting it fly and the black lab
 
lops back each time. These are the true lovers,
this dog, this man, and when the dog stops
to pee, the old guy hurries him back, then
hurls the ball farther away.  Now his mother
 
dodders out, she’s old as the sky, wheeling
her green tank with its sweet vein, breath.
She tips down the path he’s made for her,
grass rippling but trim, soft underfoot,
 
to survey the yard, every inch of it
in fine blossom, set-stone, pruned miniature,
split rails docked along the front walk,
antique watering cans down-spread—up
 
huffs the dog again with his mouthy ball—
so flowers seem to spill out, red geraniums,
grand blue asters, and something I have
no name for, wild elsewhere in our world
 
but here a thing to tend. To call for, and it comes.


Poem copyright ©2009 by David Baker, whose most recent book of poems is Never-Ending Birds, W. W. Norton, 2009. Poem reprinted from Virginia Quarterly Review, Vol. 84, no. 2, Spring 2009, by permission of David Baker and the publisher.

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

Poet David Baker b. 1954

Subjects Relationships, Pets, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Nature, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 David  Baker

Biography

Though he is known primarily as a poet of the Midwest, David Baker was born in Bangor, Maine in 1954. He spent his childhood in Missouri and attended Central Missouri State University before receiving his PhD from the University of Utah. He has won fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, the Pushcart Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. Currently a Professor of English . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Pets, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Nature, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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.