By mid-morning my hand ached
from the repetitive rhythm
of the cutting and pulling,
and the sun beat its way into my head,
and expanded like a seed of heat.
The work still hadn’t broken me in,
and I was greener than the baby shoots.
But everywhere, the others,
more seasoned than I,
worked to the rhythm of the grass
and the pollen,
and a music of wind sometimes swelled
and cooled their broad necks.
Everyone was tawny there,
and even the young women of the orchard,
loved more by the sun than the men,
looked like the reddened, beautiful girls
I have seen in pictures of the
people of the wild steppes.
At lunch time, I talked with the
old guy who works the tractor.
His voice was full of salt and dust,
and he spoke of last season’s work,
and of tea trees and pears
and his 44 years under
this corner of the sun.
If you are here long enough,
the orchard will shape your speech,
so that it rises just loud enough
above the breeze,
and there’s not much to say
beyond the hedges and the slow road,
and the hills that are already
a foreign land.
In the morning,
as I picked among the too close branches,
I thought of things beyond me,
debts, women, cities, ships and
But come afternoon, in the heat
that quells all words,
I thought of nothing,
and was simply a rustling through the trees.