Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
I remember the day, not the exact date, but it was in late spring 1964, near dusk, when I looked up and saw it. I saw it, I really did. To me, living in Kansas, it was as odd as aurora borealis. It had been a long day of hard play and several of us, all third and fourth graders, were stretched out on the crisp stubble of grass in our back yard. Mike, Calvin, Russ and Ross—the twins, and Gwen, a girl from Alaska who had moved next door a week earlier. There was no particular conversation. Minds and bodies were too exhausted. Mike mumbled that the Cardinals had won, with Bob Gibson pitching. The twins were chatting, to each other, about what cereal they wanted their mother to buy at the commissary on Sunday. I was quiet until I noticed the sky—half dark, half light. Not black butted up to white, with a straight line of definition, but with the roll of my eyes I could see blue in the west and the darkness of full night in the east, the center having a murky transition. It occurred to me at that point that we must be living on the center of the earth, directly under the center of the sky, maybe the center of the universe, and I said, “Look at the sky. Do you think we live at the middle of the world?” Only Gwen responded, “That’s keen.” I had never heard that word before and asked her what it meant. She explained it was a way to say that something was nice or very, very good. Evidently they said keen lots in Alaska. She was a twig of a girl, pale as clouds with carbon black hair and a huge mouth. She was friendly, but I thought she was extremely ugly and, because of that, hated that word, or the use of it, my entire life.
None of them answered my question about our spot, right there in Wichita, being the middle of the world. It was also the spot, that little house on Deerfield Street, where I began to love sports, all sports. Baseball on the radio and television got me started, but listening to the fight between Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston hooked me forever, with the excitement and victory of the underdog. Playing sports would eventually dissolve the daily kid play. That was the spot, the home, where my family would all live together for the last time. My father would go to Vietnam in a few weeks. I would be left at my grandmother’s home in West Virginia, while my mother, two brothers and two sisters traveled on to Ohio to live. Ultimately, my question was answered. Any place, every place, can be the middle of something, physical location or otherwise, just as any place or every place can be a starting point or endpoint.