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|August 30, 1980
I am worried about the enclosed poem.
Will you please tell me if it is any good?
THE RETARDED CHILDREN PLAY BASEBALL
The girl with mild eyes stands
with both feet on first base,
and the shortstop smiles at nothing
he can remember exactly.
Now the soft-faced boy on second
raises his hands, making the precise shape
of a ball. The ball
is already over the outfield.
Some are watching it fall,
an outfielder, the astonished batter
beginning to run. Slowly they see
it is time to wave their arms
and let their voices go. Slowly, joyfully,
the fielders are hurling their gloves,
and the batters are jumping
higher and higher in this moment
for which they have come,
this forgetting so complete
they do not know why they are shouting.
A note from McNair about this letter: In the title of this draft of the baseball poem I return to my original inspiration, which was a caution sign in my neighborhood of North Sutton that said, “SLOW Children Playing,” leading me to imagine the poem’s scene.