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THE VIEW FROM LEFT FIELD

Tiger Stadium
By Rachael Perry

That your begonias are dying does not surprise you. Home plate is not the place for begonias, white blooms with pink-edged petals are too festive, roots cannot stretch beyond layers of chalk and tobacco juice. The hanging lobelias you hooked under the press box do nicely. Brilliant blues pour from whitewashed buckets, streams of striking blue flowers, life inside this old, gray place, life that might emerge out of patched-up potholes on I-75 just the same.

Once the lobelias drink, and the shagbark hickory you planted that sags over the pitcher's mound drinks, there is nothing left in the hose to water the field. You try to rake it. You rake diagonal gashes around first, second, third, rake little bulls-eyes in the on-deck circles. The dust is too much. You find that you cannot keep up with the cleaning. Shadows of peanut shells rot, sticky stench, chocolate ice-cream plops smacked by wooden spoons. When you scoop the garbage—trampled pizza crusts and half-empty bags of popcorn—pluck each by hand, stuff them in your sack, and reach for the mop that rattles like a pitch off the handle, more trash appears in its place on the floor.

At night, you cannot bring yourself to sleep in the bleachers, noisy echoes of greasy men who curse in front of other people's children, beer foaming at the mouth. Instead, you choose the net protecting the expensive seats, where you might have spat on an umpire, maybe, because you would have been close enough to do it. You wind the net up like a hammock, cocoon yourself within it, dream about Lance Parrish and dog-spitty baseballs.

Every Sunday after nine o'clock mass, your father stops by for breakfast, a package of doughnuts under his arm. He helps you set up a card table in right field, on a patch of grass, crusty-beige, crumpled, where you drink milk from half-gallon cartons and talk about hockey. A custard pastry and three cinnamon rolls later, your father reaches for the two mitts he brought, tosses one over, pounds his fist into leather. He jogs out to center field, turns toward you, waits.

You play with him these Sundays, every Sunday. Play catch with your father in Tiger Stadium on crusty-beige grass, like the old times.

-EFQ


RACHAEL PERRY is an MFA candidate in creative writing at Bowling Green State University where she has taught creative writing and composition, assisted with the campus Women Writers Group, and served as technical editor of the Mid-American Review.

© 2000 Rachael Perry

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