My first game wasn’t at home.
I ran to center-field holding the yellow softball.
My shoes still clean with no trace of dirt.
I pull my socks up over my smooth, un-scarred knees.
I tuck in my shirt and smile because it’s red.
I’m nervous, my body is cold, but I do not sweat.
It’s an hour before practice and I’m dripping in sweat.
My bat cuts through the air in the garage of my home.
I pull my hair back and feel my hot face; it’s red.
I sit on the oily floor and trace my fingers over the seams of my old ball.
Coach pulls into the driveway. I jump off of my knees
And hop into the back of his white truck, now reddish brown from the dirt.
I pour the grass seeds out along the rows in the dirt.
Next season, I can say with pride that my hard work and sweat
Helped to give this old field its soft grass that tickles my knees
When I get down to stretch before my first game at home.
The sun sets as we finish our rows and I crumple my empty bag into a ball
And stuff it into my back pocket. The orange sun makes the dirt even more red.
But now I know why that dirt is so red.
It is red no where else on the island. It is Lahaina’s red dirt.
It is red like the colors of Lahainaluna and its ‘L’ atop Mount Ball.
It is salty and acidic from volcanic ash and the sweat
Of ball players I never got to meet. The Kaua`ula winds plaster this dirt onto homes,
Cars, everything. At the end of the day, you find it even in the wrinkles of your knees.
With a helmet on my head and armor over my knees,
I sit protected behind home plate. My uniform is dirty but still shining bright red
In the 12 o’clock sun. “Runners on 1st and 2nd. Watch the runners coming home!”
The batter moves closer, pushing me back in my box, kicking up dirt
On purpose. I don’t mind; I like being covered in our dirt, our sweat.
The pitcher cocks back and tightly grips her yellow ball.
We lost my last home game. I cried. Not because I couldn’t hit her ball,
But because it was done. The pain I felt in my left knee
Was gone; it was somewhere else. I watched the sweat
From my catching gear drip onto the dirt. I saw that everything was red.
Inside and outside the fence were red shirts and faces, and everywhere, red dirt.
I looked at Mount Ball and its ‘L’ and what I saw is what I see when I think of home.
Lahaina is the home of many ball players,
Forever remembered covered in dirt and with scarred knees.
Our blood is red, but so is our sweat that proudly seeps back into our field.