Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Shadow Ball

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Shadow Ball

Article excerpt

Let's say some black guys in the '30s hustled up a baseball game;

then right away this tree-trunk-armed Josh Gibson type

lambasted their one soggy Spalding-with-its-cover-falling-off

over the sarsparillas into Okeefokee Slough. Next play,

the pitcher wound up, and threw a fat nothing. The batter

swung, and smoked a low line drive the shortstop blocked,

and fired to the first baseman, who did a split and scooped

nothing out of the dirt just as the runner banged the bag.

"Out!" roared the umpire, and both benches cleared.

The Pittsburgh Crawfords, Birmingham Black Barons,

New York Black Yankees, even the Indianapolis Clowns

beat the best white teams at real baseball. Still, before

a game, they'd whip around-the-horn that spherical hunk

of the void they knew so well-slamming it deep, chasing it

down so skillfully few whites who saw them guessed the trick.

Black folks were shadows to most white ones anyway,

though it was whites who pioneered the shadow services

for which government is famed, and the shadow intelligence

displayed inside high offices across the land,

not to mention shadow marriage, where couples

make real mortgage payments to shadow companies

for shadow homes, have shadow sex, and before they sleep

with shadow partners, say "I love you" without

the shadowiest notion what they mean, which is why

their kids prefer the well-lit screens of movies and the world

wide web to baseball, and professional theorists swear

there's no real life, real meaning, real excellence, real real,

and the most enlightened answer to "Good Night" is "Good

is a race/class/gender-determined abstraction. …

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