Belmont Correctional

The Rawlings redstitch,
hit in a perfect parabolic arc
from the broken bat of a detainee
at Lovely Hill Correctional,
landed square in the centre
of the sky-to-sky windshield
of our family’s 1979 Ford LTD.
My mother’s scream echoed that of the brakes
as my father double-pegged the pedal
and forced the car to a thunking halt.
He sat silent in the fog of binder smoke,
his eyes closed and his hands wriggling upon the wheel,
caught in a prayer that only the lapsed can notice.

I thought of the poor sucker who cracked the ball.
His bearded, horrified face as he ran toward the car
dismissed my cynic’s take of an extended sentence.
I wondered if he’d instigated this diamondless game,
and what he’d done to land himself in this April neighbourhood,
soon to be smoothed with graters and blessed with
swingsets and backstops.

Anger was never my father’s default,
though, he could summon it when necessary.
The dispute was settled with a handshake –
my father’s tattooed forearm
moved in pace with the inked hand of the inmate.
They spoke for what seemed an overly long time, and though
I could not hear their words, it seemed that they parted as,
not quite friends, but as two men who understood each other.

That evening, my father ran his hand over the webbed windshield,
and pressed his thumb into the epicenter of the near breach.
In an act perhaps best understood as gratitude,
he swept flakes of glass from the hood of the car,
emptied them into the wastebin,
and turned out the garage light.