Fourth of July, Necaise Crossing Baseball Field, Necaise Crossing, Mississippi
It’s a solid hour before dark. Columns of blue balloons & speakers flank a flatbed stage. The pastor’s pulpit sits before a background of red cellophane stripes, white Christmas lights. Our children are running from third, to second, to first to home. The pines haven’t silhouetted into the horizon, the flag bearers haven’t mounted, the concession stand is open. The black stacks of woofers and tweeters pulse
with Brother Kevin’s thanks to Steep Hollow’s fire volunteers for keeping watch over the outfield, thanks to Miss Gay’s Gayla Productions for bunting, and he leads our pledge as heavy hooves cut into infield clay, stand ready to leave
the field. The Shiloh Baptist youth choir sings four hymns. I hear every word, without their voices. Cotton flags are sewn to their pockets. Is that the best looking choir you ever seen, Brother Kevin asks, as day fades. You know, the liberty bell can ring the story of our nation’s independence, but only the ringing of Gabriel’s trumpet will bring eternal freedom. When our Savior comes, we want you to be free. As the lights click and fade, children take seats along the chalklines,
the concession stands drop their plywood shutters. Lawn chairs turn toward right field, follow the progress of deacons running with flares.
Brent House, an editor for The Gulf Stream: Poems of the Gulf Coast and a contributing editor for The Tusculum Review, is a native of Necaise, Mississippi, where he raised cattle and watermelons on his family’s farm. Slash Pine Press published his first collection, The Saw Year Prophecies, and his poems have appeared in journals such as Colorado Review, Cream City Review, Denver Quarterly, The Journal, and The Kenyon Review.