Dan Stryk

Boat People’s Softball Game

1997—Dekalb, IL

memory of a scene witnessed on a Sunday stroll
past a public housing project for naturalized
Vietnamese refugees, in a farmtown west of Chicago

Nervous chatter like a hum, they cluster
          round the fruit-punch bowl, photos snapping
                              ceaselessly, on a day 90 degrees. Those grinning

wives & wide-eyed kids then roam back
          to the batting cage, photos snapping faster
                              now, to cheer their awkward menfolk on,

in their fast tongue—so proud of them,
          so far from home—as they wave back from this
                              American game (photos snapping faster now),

sweat spraying from their tossed black
          bangs—roped ponies prancing in a strange
                              corral—their laughter shrill, as they grin back

from the hectic field, at every lunge & foul.