Matt Sumpter • Outfielder

The flag pole’s javelin of shadow dwarfs us,
our hard-case chatter, our shy longing
for dip. Women stir in their spirit-wear

like cinders. We spit and chant, but no one talks
about the crow strung up in the batting cage.
I found him twisting, barrel-rolling, choking himself

with the acrylic net. I barely made the team,
so when the coach said Somebody put it down,
I grabbed a bat. The crow was far ahead of me.

His body sagged. His wingtips reached
for the shadows they were made from.
At dusk, the ball will disappear that way,

becoming movement, sound, as we cut
our names in dirt with metal cleats,
believing fields of onion grass are endless.

After the crow died, one wing shifted
with the wind, flickering through shades of black
like puddles catching moonlight in the parking lot.

I lifted the weightless bones. A teammate called,
It is what it is. Forget that shit.

Matt Sumpter’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boulevard, West Branch Wired, Los Angeles Review, and elsewhere. He is an MFA candidate at Ohio State University and lives in Columbus.