Thursday, February 21, 2013

Grapefruit Picking

This one's for my dad, whom I love very much...

Grapefruit Picking at my Father’s House (After a Rainy Day and a Cold Night)

Dressed for cold
bird bath ice-filmed
we gather the typical implements:
ladder, gloves, empty boxes and plastic buckets
and the long, red-handled pole
with the wire basket
and grasping prongs
bent inward like a shark’s
backward row of teeth
for plucking the fruit
and catching it
before it can fall
and split
and be

The sky beyond the tree
Is evangelical blue
the fruit is the yellow
of crayon suns
the tree is deep green
and dark with shade
and rounded
like a cave-hole
its bowed form
by its own

My father and I
-our job before us-
confer in feathery breaths
where to start
(the sunny side)
and where to put the ladder
(maybe into that partial gap
would be good)
and the possible ways to manage
the tight tangle
of branches
with the fruit picker
and snare the
fruits that clutch the
stubborn stems.

Me, high on the ladder
he, amongst the containers
on the ground.
I snag the fruit
and then drop them
into his hands.
He decides
which are good
and which are not
and puts them
into buckets.

We work around the tree
from warmth and sun
to shadowy chill
to warmth and sun again.
Our utterances few
and forgettable
never straying far from
the task at hand
except to share the  
oddities we discover
(this one barely fit in the basket)
hidden in the magical
(how strange! one with a single 
longitudinal ridge in its rind)
depths of branches.

Hand by hand
fruit by fruit
we unburden the tree
by the job
between us.
Neither he nor I
say it, but
we both seem
to know
right now
is as good
as it’s ever
going to be.

A father and son
working together
on a cold, fresh day
picking grapefruit
and salvaging
what fruit
they can.

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