charge across the sky as if chased away by the setting sun,
speeding northward, ahead of the forecasted front; the temperatures
already dropped according to the cars thermometer. I slow
a man tightropes the edge of the highway ahead. He favors his
a slight tug with each step. It may be the large canvas bag around
that left shoulder or it may be a war wound. Forty- or fifty-something,
perhaps he served in Desert Storm; by all accountsopen-toe
in November, faded Titans sweatshirt, and the small Batman backpack
around the other shoulderhes homeless. He may have
been a casualty
of the Camden Foundrys closing or laid off from the Carhartt
You have my attention already, sirno need for the extended
The gravel pops as I pull over to the shoulder near the entrance
to the city park. A group of kids is playing pickup softball
on the nearest little league field. Parents cheer from fences,
and a father
underhands a pitch towards the plate. A beagle mix runs across
the highway; it resembles the neighbors dog, but wears a
blue collar instead.
The hitchhiker turns away from my parked car and hobbles down
towards the game. His arms raised, thumbs extended, he celebrates
from the boy rounding first, who slides, dusts himself off, and
waves back to him.
And later, when the game ends, I swear I hear him call him Daddy.
Byars has been published in such journals as Gihon River
Review and Ottawa Arts Review and has degrees from
Bethel College and Murray State University. He currently teaches
at Murray State University while working on an annotated bibliography
of the Towneley plays and completing his MFA in creative writing.