Rain Delay

by Geoffrey Jones

RAIN DELAY

The thundercloud erupts and the game
Is delayed for an hour… The car is warm
And dry as I watch granddaughter sprint
For cover with the rest of the team… All
Legs and arms… Tangled up and twisted…
Grinning… Laughing… She disappears into
The field house where players and coaches
Will huddle up until the storm passes and
It’s safe to restart the game…

I nurse a cup of coffee from the French
Press Café on Bank Street and settle in
Before play resumes again… The score is
Tied 0-0… It’s likely to end this way too…
The teams seldom score… Moving masses
Of brightly colored jerseys advance and
Retreat without purposeful direction or
Any intention of actually scoring a goal…

The radio is tuned into “All Day News”…
There’s nothing like staying well-informed…
But that’s harder and harder to do when
Advancing an agenda is valued more
Than sharing the truth… As competition
For airtime is filled with commercials that
Dispense dubious claims about treatments
And cures that produce superior erections…
Or hair dyes that conceal your age…

A dark-skinned gardener wrestles with
A hose and a broken sprinkler that’s
Shooting water all over the field in the
Middle of the downpour… You gotta’
Respect him… And people like him…
Working hard while others like me are
Sipping cups of warm coffee in dry cars
Without an apparent care in the world…

And I know there are sharks in the tank
Who are amused by workers like this…
The people with little hope… The ones
Who live on Bend Over Street who take it
In the shorts time and time again no matter
How hard they work… They should be
Admired… Exalted… But they’re not…
Soon they become objects of derision and
Disdain… Better luck next year, I suppose…

An attractive woman… Middle-aged and fit…
Races to the field house as fast as she can to
Avoid getting wet… There’s something about
Her that lifts my spirits high… I wasn’t always
This old… And plainly I can recall…

All the young foxes with promising boxes
That might have been mined for honey and
Gold… But that’s ancient history now…
Who the hell am I kidding… That train left
The station ages ago… Still, I imagine we
Are lying in bed… Basking in the warm
Afterglow of a worthy endeavor performed
With great skill and success… She vanishes
Into the field house… Oh well…

An announcer with an operatic voice brings
Me down to earth… He’s wrapping up the
News segment… Pavarotti-like… Rich and
Deep… Nessun Dorma for news junkies…
Such nonsense… I listen hardly… I hardly
Listen… It’s all the same… Day after day…
Week after week… Mommy mommy make
It stop… Where do I go to surrender…

“And now a word from our sponsor”…

Oh… Sweet Jesus save me… I can’t take it
Any more… I switch stations in search of the
Perfect song… I can’t find one but this will
Have to do…

You can’t be my baby
If you ain’t here
So listen up honey
Let me be clear
You hold the key
To all I hold dear

The sun won’t rise without you

You can’t be my sugar
By tellin’ me lies
So buckle up baby
No tearful good-byes
Just tell me the truth
No rumors or sighs

The stars won’t shine without you

You can’t be my sweetie
Just give me a sign
Time may be wastin’
But everything’s fine
Just give me a wink
That your heart is mine

The tides won’t change without you

You can’t be my darlin’
While dancin’ alone
My heart is yours
To have and to own
It’s all in your hands
It’s etched in stone

I can’t go on without you

Baby I can’t go on …

Now that’s the way I like it… I used to
Scoff at country music… But the older I
Get, the more I get it… Deeply shallow…
Keeping it sweet and easy… Honest and
Pure… If only real life were that simple…
But it’s not…

And somewhere between primitive genius
And moral pretention there must be a
Common sensibility that could appeal…
That should appeal… To rational people
Who are stressed by the gravity of
Separating the yolk from the white of
Things…

There’s a graveyard just beyond the playing
Field where people have taken up permanent
Residence… People from whom we have not
Heard a peep for a hundred years… But they
Speak to us wordlessly nonetheless… Even if
Only to remind us that the end result is all the
Same… And if that doesn’t get your mind
Focused on the important things, then I don’t
Don’t suppose anything will…

And yet there are rogues and wretches who
Pad their resumes with fabrications and
Specious claims… While trying to trick their
Way onto Park Place or Boardwalk… But who
Land up on Baltic instead…

And everyone knows that God rewards the
Truth and good behavior…

The clouds part… The sun teases… Steam
Rises up from the turf as teams work their
Way back onto the field… A whistle pierces
The air… It’s the referee’s call to arms…
The game begins again as parents scream
And exhort their teams on to victory… A
Thrill registers on the faces of mothers and
Fathers who revel in their children’s success…
The game is won and lost… But no one really
Wins or loses…

Granddaughter races down field and looks to
The sideline to make sure I’m still watching…
How could I not… As all of my hope for the
Future is rolled up and invested in her… She
Knows that, I think…

As the game ends in a scoreless tie…

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