The Art of Becoming
My father never learned to twirl spaghetti
without a spoon. On boyhood Sundays before zeppoles San Guiseppe,
before baseball, he twisted his fork left then right
like his favorite switch hitter. Noodles in the strike zone
as long as the fork touched the plate. The lift
was like swinging at a screw ball.
Be a man, his father said, on Confirmation day,
the day the boy hit a homer up Joralemon
in his Number 7 baseball shirt. That night at Napolis,
behind a mound of spaghetti, three men
with Mantle in center. A paper napkin in one hand,
a waiter’s pencil in the other, my wide-eyed father
as the ballplayer put down his spoon.
Not before another season
would the boy measure himself
in the smooth, in the prong.