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Chapter and Verse 

On the Occasion of Being Mistaken for a Boy by the Umpire

in the Little League Conference Championship

I had learned quickly how to spit through

the jail-like bars of the catcher's mask

so looking back I can't say as I blame the umpire who,

after seeing me spit and punch my glove,

could only draw one conclusion:

"You got your cup on, right son?"

And almost everyone hears him, and I want

my father to stand up, like he does, and yell,

"What the hell are you looking at, bub!"

or "Bad call, blue!" But instead there's a hush,

and I forget the signs for curve balls, fast balls,

and screw balls, and all I can think about is no balls,

no little ten-year-old balls to match my spit

and mitt-punching. My mother pretends

to clean up orange peels and the boys yell

from the infield, "It's a girl, we got a girl as catcher."

He doesn't know what to say so follows up his "Alrighty"

with a quick "Play ball." But I can't squat now,

I think everyone is looking at my no balls.

They're all watching the girl with no balls.

I'm watching her, too. She knows better

than to cry so spits again. She learns

to live in halves, to, as her father says,

"Save it for the field." She snaps,

"What are you blind, Ump?" and digs

her plastic spikes into the fresh dirt.

-- Stacey Waite

Stacey Waite's new chapbook, from which this poem is taken, Love Poem to Androgyny, won the 2006 Main Street Rag Chapbook Contest. She is the winner of the 2004 Frank O'Hara Prize for Poetry for her first chapbook, entitled Choke. She lives in Wilkinsburg. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Tuesday at 7 p.m. on independent radio, WYEP 91.3 FM.

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