Monday, March 31, 2014

Opening Day

Saturday was a beautiful, bright, melting day. Sunday was a sleety, slushy, flooding day. As a result, central Maine is a big mess. At the moment our driveway is impassable except for four-wheel drive vehicles. That means my car isn't going anywhere for the foreseeable future. The frozen gravel roads are collapsing into quagmires. My friend Linda, who remembers when her road returned to swamp in the early 1960s, described its present state as "so interesting." Her husband Ralph, who is automotively fearless, shook his head and said, "Don't know how we'll get that car out but we'll try," which is as pessimistic a driving statement as I've ever heard from him.

Hard as it is to imagine that anyone could be playing baseball in such weather, today is opening day for the Red Sox, and it's a good thing they're playing in Baltimore rather than New England. So this afternoon, while gunning Tom's pickup through the icy scummy muddy slushy moat formerly known as our driveway, I'll also have the radio tuned to the slow and dreamy commentary of summer.

Here's a poem from my western Pennsylvania project, a small vision of baseball and tragedy, dedicated to the first day of my favorite season.



Dawn Potter

As a kid he lived on cabbage I bet
they is still talking about that funny stance
the sparks from the zinc plant that lit up
like fireworks on the Fourth of July nothing
grew in Weed Field it was those plumes of smoke
from American Steel you breathed that air
all the time it was dirty after his hard slides the fans
threw fruit at his head I didn’t like being dead that much

When I tagged that humpty-dumpty bum-armed pitcher
for a home run we was two happy proud Polacks that night
but why was he delivering kielbasa and cheese
if he’d signed with the Cardinals oh they played
the World Series in the daylight back then
and we listened on the radio when he shagged
that can of corn for the second out just one more out
and then car horns was honking men tossing hats
Teddy Ballgame laid his face in his two hands
and cried but in the morning it was all over we was
back to business as usual and in the papers we learnt
how Göring died poisoned himself thought he was
too good to swing with the rest.

[from Chestnut Ridge, a verse-history-in-progress of southwestern Pennsylvania]

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