28 September 2010

Tuesday Poem: Swing


I'm left arm over
I'm the new red ball
I'm the prodding by the batsman
at the green and sweating pitch.

I'm two slips and a gully
I'm a short square leg
I'm the keeper standing back
and the umpire's call of "Play".

I'm the short strides then the long
the rock back and the gather
I'm the front foot thudding down
as the ball departs my hand.

I'm the seam proudly upright
I'm the late movement in
I'm the bat that is nowhere
as the ball hits the pad.

I'm the turn to the umpire
the scream of an appeal
I'm the slowly rising finger
and the batsman's long walk back.

I'm the hugs I barely feel
as I focus on the moment
when for one ball I decoded
the mysteries of swing.

Tim says: "Swing" is my contribution to the new anthology 'A Tingling Catch': A Century of NZ Cricket Poems 1864-2009, edited by Mark Pirie (HeadworX, 2010). I've read the anthology, and it's very good.

Technical note: Before the physics majors who haunt these poetry blogs start commenting on it: yes, I realise the ball won't swing if the seam is precisely upright, as claimed in Stanza 4, and that the seam should be slanted slightly to the right if the bowler wants to create inswing, and to the left if the bowler wants to create outswing, unless the ball is roughed up enough to reverse-swing, in which case those directions should be reversed. But that would have taken a lot of extra stanzas to explain. What am I, a coaching manual?

Check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog.


maggie@at-the-bay.com said...

So, thankfully Tim, the "I" in your poem is not an underarm bowler nor a match fixer. Lovely poem about cricket, thank you.

susan t. landry said...

terrific, tim. i love the urgency conveyed by the "voice"...

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Maggie and Susan.

Maggie, I didn't have enough control over whether either my feet or the ball were going to be a good candidate for "spot fixing" - I could never have guaranteed that any particular ball would or would not have been a no-ball.

Helen Lowe said...

As one who both spent a childhood playing cricket with my brothers and still enjoys listening to the "textured tedium of the 5 day game" (on the radio--the only true way!)--great poem!

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Helen. I too am a devotee of the five-day game, and of the radio commentary. (Though I like Twenty20 as well - it's the fifty-over format that tends to leave me cold.)

Also, I live within walking distance of the Basin Reserve, and have been known to take a pile of manuscript pages there with me for an afternoon's editing and cricket-watching. How fortunate I am that the wind never attempts to blow those manuscript pages out of my hands!

AJ Ponder said...

Awesome Tim, bit of a cricket fan and couldn't help but think this also managed to capture a little styalistic hint of radio commentary.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Alicia!

I listened to cricket on the radio for many years before I ever saw it live, so I suppose this seeps into what I write about it. Not long now until the new season starts!