|Chagrin River Review||
We Pick Pomegranates in the Early Day
We pick pomegranates in the early day,
canvas sleeves over our arms and snapped
into place on our gloved hands
that part the orbed branches. The fruit,
sometimes split, an annual feast of pith
and arils. Telltale lacewings keep the thrips
from moving in, from sucking out
what we will press after the haul.
You call from around the tree, say my name
in the same cadence remarking how easily the harvest plucks.
We’re new to the task –
How small can we go? do we toss the cracked
globes? do we prune while we’re at it?
We trundle down the rows of tangled green and red,
faces scratched from the backswing of branches
pulled down breast high for the pick.
Time reconfigures herself, orb by orb,
washing, halving, recording, pressing
till the red juices scatter, grow from a hundred
repetitions six times over to where
you are orb, I am juice
in the press.
The 1950 Massey-Ferguson saddle seat sits high
and beltless. Fumes ride back, noisy. First lesson
of step here to push forward, or shift here to gear
up, and we're off after fifteen futile minutes
of muscle and shovel beading our will, lungs desperate
to build your vision of a replacement cypress allee
for your new home. So I back up the faded
red tractor to the first of four dozen sprawled trees,
untended a year before you move to the land. You crawl
beneath heat-hardened spines, unfriendly as the thumb-
thick chain you wrap around base shaft, hook
the iron barb onto a link, untangle
yourself from underneath the prickle
of my foot above the gas.
The Massey-Fergusson rattles forward then
bucks at my press. First wheelie, whoopee;
my heart no longer in a thousand places:
vibrant muscle hammers on the cage
of my throat. But the box attachment
saves me, forces down the long nose
of my bronco, repairs my grip on the flat-
style steering, and frees the long cynical
root and its toughened cousins, sweet
sounds of stress through breaking earth,
one exhale of diesel and renewal.
– after Adrienne Rich
If I’ve reached for your lines (I have),
voicemail incanted word for word,
lifted my chin to the way your voice
caught the light when you said
you wanted to live the rest of your life
with me, then I return to the chant on my knees,
repeat the sigh while seasons shift and the flowers
concern themselves with coloring their cheeks
for the spring dance.
If you’ve touched my finger
with your tongue, tipped my face so I match
you groove for groove, hollow for hollow,
then my words pitch back and forth,
tilt me sideways so I lose my place
and cannot remember six springs or falls,
or that seventh summer–
catching light, my chant reissues,
Glady Ruiz is a poetry MFA student by night, and a high school science teacher by day. She looks forward to graduating in May.