The Far Field

Iain Haley Pollock


I'm leading the seventh-grade boys soccer team
from the far field to a point, without a marked
crosswalk, where I will shepherd them across the road.

Behind me, together in huddles, they murmur
just softly enough that I cannot hear the particulars
of their gossip (that girlish word they'd never use).

Ahead of us, in a catch of wind, a tulip poplar loses
a flutter of leaves, golden in the reposing light.
This season, we've been practicing on the far field

while the near one is torn up, leveled, laid with new sod.
Today, workmen dig a French drain the length of the field.
Some of them shovel earth from a trench, and others

fill it with gravel. Faces salted with sweat, they seem happy
for the end of the day: their chatter cuts quickly back
and forth, and with every few shovel loads, they break

into laughter. Their Spanish is spoken too rapidly
and mine learned too long ago for me to make sense
of what is said. When the boys and I reach the road,

a Jeep, painted a dull silver, pulls from the student lot
at the high school and peels past us toward the church,
St. Martin-in-the-Fields. At the intersection, the Jeep

blows through the stop sign and races over the railroad
bridge beyond it. I walk to the yellow line dividing
the lanes and wave the boys across before more cars

can rip through. I thought myself, at their age, bigger
and readier for the world.  In two hours, the sky
will cloud over, and night will fall, moonless and opaque.