Lemon tree lunch

    We sit cross-legged in the shade
    on the dirt that crunches underneath
    muddied boots, heads brushing thorny undersides
    of the trees we lean against, the clean tangy smell
    of smooth lemon leaves.

    The top layer of soil dried too quickly
    in the sun and curled up into thin little
    desert crags interspersed with snail
    poison and dead leaves and long
    rotted fruit. From the backs of trucks
    and carts we pull out coolers filled
    with melted ice, cans of cola and tortas, plums
    wrapped in paper towels and peanut butter
    sandwiches I’ve been waiting for

    since we checked in, 7 a.m., since before
    when we stood around the yard to shoot
    the breeze, except me
    hija del patrón
    bored white girl on summer break
    awaiting morning orders

    Go to Block 13, then 8 and 9
    Then the roads, they’re picking Block 4
    You remember which one?

    Noon exactly, union rules
    we leave the watering truck by the side
    of the dirt road lined with crates
    of picked fruit, cease hauling sprinklers
    and looking for broken hoses;
    The business of getting life out of
    dry barrancos and arroyos.

    Half an hour, no more no less
    goes slowly next to the impotable water station
    a pipe thicker than my arm that extends
    from a pole rising into the sky.
    The crashing sounds of machinery and
    traffic noise come from acres away, but
    the hum of bees is close — they hope
    to share in lunchtime.
    I carry a book in a Ziploc in my cooler
    to protect it from the ice and we
    pull hats over our eyes
    stretch legs into the afternoon sun
    burning off all trace of morning fog.
    Only I put on sunscreen.

    At 12:30, we grab our coolers
    toss half-chewed fruit into the trees
    to disappear, climb back into the
    trucks for the lazy part of the day

    the sweaty countdown to 3:30
    when from the trees and fields around us
    people will emerge to climb into now
    dusty cars without air conditioning
    and go home.


    blog comments powered by Disqus
    Please read our Comment Policy.