“Glove” by Rigoberto González



My father bought me a left-handed baseball glove, which made my hand look large and masculine, not the feminine, delicate hand I had to remember not to press against my hips. As soon as I slipped it on I knew I would be bored, and I made no effort to hide it as he stood a few yards away, yelling out “Catch!” as if I was made for this meaningless task. The baseball flipped over my gloved hand each time, my wrist a hinge.

I could see the frustration in my father’s eyes as my cousins stood around to watch, my uncles judging from a distance. It would be yet another athletic failure. His first: the boxing career that didn’t work out. And I, his oldest, nothing of a jock in my baby fat, my soft voice, my gentle nature. I collected stamps and books. I held my girl cousin’s hairpins while she tightened her braids.

My mind wandered, and I changed the ball into an egg, the red membranes glowing through. A seashell holding its salty breath. An avocado pit turned bone-white in the sun. Or maybe, just maybe, it was John Steinbeck’s pearl. I saw all of these wonders flying toward me, but not the baseball itself. The baseball, full of manly rage, came charging at my chest, striking my sternum with a thud that yanked me out of daydream and into the terrible world of disappointed fathers and uncles who willingly exchanged their spectator sport from catch to knock-him-down.

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About the author

Rigoberto Gonzalez

Rigoberto González is the author of eight books, most recently of the young adult novel The Mariposa Club, and a story collection titled Men without Bliss. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, and winner of the American Book Award and The Poetry Center Book Award, Rigoberto writes a Latino book column for the El Paso Times of Texas. He is contributing editor for Poets and Writers Magazine, on the Board of Directors for the National Book Critics Circle, and is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers—Newark: The State University of New Jersey.

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