As the First Gulf War began, I watched
the Cardinals – in their brewery
sponsored stadium in downtown St Louis –
beat the ‘Frisco Giants. The home team
is named for the scarlet-breasted bird –
the visitors (aka the New York
Gothams before they went west) for chuzpah.
The fixture was part of the USA’s
annual baseball World Series, which,
of course, includes no teams from abroad.
It was a weekday, early evening –
very much a family occasion.
The programme, advertising caps and tee-shirts,
urged us to ‘think of our boys in the Gulf.’
Most of the players had Hispanic names.
In the intervals, the black vendors
climbed the terraced steps. ‘Any of you farmers
want a coke?’ they called and the mostly white
crowd took no offence Missouri being
a state of farms – soya beans and hogs.
Meanwhile, the quadrille of baseball resumed,
its restrained drama accompanied by the theme
from Jaws each time a player made a home run.
As twilight became night, I remembered
the wide river a couple of blocks away –
rising in the hills of Minnesota
and debouching, two thousand miles
and more, through the shining, shifting Delta
into an altogether different gulf –
and I thought of the immense Republic’s
dark, inviolate fields.