June’s heavy humidity held our breath in its hands.
We wondered if it was safe to sit through the heat,
but Cleveland was in town and the Tigers were on fire.
Street vendors kept cool with plastic fans.
You stayed in the car. I paced the parking lot.
C’mon we’ll miss the first pitch.
Your face paled when I ordered our usual—
two grilled kosher hot dogs. You shook your head
like I’d suggested a pig roast on Shabbat.
Instead you bought a beer and nursed it until we stood
to stretch—together ten years and that was the first time
I saw you drink beer in a ballpark.
The Tigers held their lead. You said nothing, not even
when we watched the parade of players’ wives climb
the stairs in stilettoes and miniskirts.
I pointed to the one in head-to-toe Gucci, hoping
you’d laugh and roll your eyes, then yell, like always,
for Charlie the singing Italian ice guy to come by.
You barely blinked when you caught a foul ball,
as if it flew from the sun into your open palm.
When you loosened your grip, it dribbled
down the steps until an usher grabbed it
and threw it back. Look, luck fell into your lap, twice.
For months, I’d lie awake and replay that day.
Why did I nudge you from the car? What else had I missed?
By the time the EMT’s reached us, your body was slack.
I ran behind the stretcher shouting questions.
I don’t remember what I did with our seasons tickets.
Maybe I gave the rest to a neighbor or shredded them.
I know the Tigers won, but I can’t recall the final score.
Linda Laderman is a Michigan writer and poet. She is the 2023 recipient of The Jewish Woman’s Prize from Harbor Review. Her micro-chapbook, “What I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know” will be published online at Harbor Review in September, 2023. Her poetry has appeared in The Gyroscope Review, The Jewish Literary Journal, SWWIM, ONE ART, Poetica Magazine, and Rust & Moth, among others. She has work forthcoming in Thimble Literary Magazine and Minyan Magazine. For nearly a decade, she volunteered as a docent at the Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Find her at lindaladerman.com