33̊ 25’ 55” N, 111̊ 52’ 34” W
Tina May Hall

Men and women wearing t-shirts in primary colors hoot and run the bases at the municipal park. One diamond is near the sewage treatment plant, and the wives and boyfriends on the bleachers wrinkle their noses. Children swing from the nylon ropes and iron clasps of the giant spiderweb in the sand. Large tortoiseshell cockroaches fly through the dusk, searching out the fleshy stink of the trashcans, their bodies thwacking against backstops and light poles, sending shivers of music through the metal.

Downtown, ice factories roar in the heat. Men wear flannel and sheepskin-lined boots imported from Canada. The ice melts faster than they can move it. Each delivery truck has a cross painted on its bumper, and an old woman is paid to sit in the break room and pray.

On the way home from softball, a man takes his family to A&W for root beer floats. “They used to have frosty glass mugs,” he says, fingering the rim of the paper cup disconsolately. His wife and child count cars in the parking lot and build a house out of straws and salt packets. “Where’s Daddy?” his wife asks, looking pointedly at him. “He’s walking the dog,” the child says, pointing at a scrap of leftover bun on the table, and the ketchup bottle, and the letters hovering over them on the plate glass that declare, while supplies last.

South Mountain used to be surrounded by flower fields in wide bands of pinks and oranges. Ranunculi with their tissue-paper petals, sprayed and fed by the two Japanese families who cultured row after row of living origami. It was not all cross-country dining rooms and funeral parlors. Ninety percent of their business was bulbs, most beautiful deception, ugly knuckles coded to give birth to miniature suns. Now, tract houses sit on the flower fields, haunted by the perfume of acres. Once in a while, in the lucky yards, a stubborn bulb turns over in the earth, thrusts its head above the sod, shakes its beauty loose.

Tina May Hall lives and teaches in upstate New York. She gets most of her ideas by watching fields full of ravens and trying to decipher what they are spelling. You can read more of her work here.