Brian Turner – Night Game with Folklore

Brian Turner

Night Game with Folklore

The last place team has taken to the field
with the stadium only partially filled—
the lowest attendance in living memory. 
This is a double A ballclub, and at this point
in the season, deep into the humid month
of August, the conversation among players
shifts to the offseason, winter ball in Florida,
heading home to Colombia or Missouri, if
they might hang up their cleats by December.

But in the wetlands beyond the left field fence,
and in the oaks bearded by Spanish moss
still further into the darkness, millions of tiny flyers
lift off, some with wings dusted by pollen, some
driven by a hunger that’s nearly blinding, others
so small and fragile, with wings made of translucent
panes, and all of them flying toward the metal halide 
floodlights, toward that great plume of carbon dioxide
exhaled by the crowd as it cheers the sound of the bat
breaking the night open, the ball altered on its course
and rising into the field of stars gone dim above.

The infielders crane their heads back, waving their arms
to call for the ball, but the ball just keeps going—upward
and out of sight, the players below with their mouths opened 
to the night, their voices lost inside of themselves, deep
within the cavern of the body, where their questions will go 
unanswered, the ball still in fair territory, the players 
and the crowd searching for it with a singular focus, 
the way tiny flyers gravitate to the lights, 100 lumens 
per watt, and hypnotic, the heat of it on approach
killing them by the thousands, by the tens of thousands.

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