A Walk-Off Home Run

for David Ortiz

Your teammates scramble
from the dugout
to greet you at home plate

and, as you approach,
they start singing your song,
or, trying

to sing it
(few of them know
the Spanish lyrics)-

most serenade you
with their own wordless
versions of the tune,

chanting meaningless syllables
that merge
with the crowd’s din.

The camera
pans to the bleachers
where no one’s going

anywhere, and for once
the announcers
are silent.

Enough to let the roar
and pictures tell the story:
the crowd’s

dancing in place,
everyone with their own
dithyrambic shouts of joy.

and yes, there’s power
in a song
when everyone sings and

believes the same words,
but better still
this anthem of chaotic praise,

strangers and friends
finding their own
ways to celebrate:

two nuns doing the merengue
in the aisle, a boy who can’t
stop jumping up and down,

and this one old man
quietly weeping,
his mouth opening and closing

as if unable to find words
for whatever’s passed
like a dowsing rod

over him. The stadium lights
shine on his cheeks
and he shakes his head

as if he knows
this was just a game, and yet
something has happened

that’s left him speechless.
All around him
people sing in tongues,

thirty-something thousand
variations on the hymn to joy,
while back on the field

the players
try now to look serious-
there’s one more game to win

to make the playoffs-
but the crowd keeps cheering,
the Boston night

is filled with song, and the camera
returns for one last glimpse
of the weeping man,

his mute words
somehow necessary
in this chorus of praise.