Michelle L. Brown
She smells bruised onion despite noon’s chill, sees her kale
as cankered leaves for harvest,
green plagued by cabbage loopers in the field, growth
a reluctant prayer half-answered.
Culls yonder in a waxy heap, some trampled beneath rubber boot heals, their impress already
dark with rot. Her late reaping gamble a wash, diddling
with toil to squirrel away
a soupcon. She rinses grime
from scarred hands and stops to watch the faucet drip. Bubbles form, break
where the drops fall, a nesting doll of tin cans within her muddy reflection. She asks the plastic
owl on the fencepost whether Jenn ever reached Nepal.
The silent bastard never tells,
but this crop won’t pick itself,
so she unpacks her pimento cheese sandwich, Cheetos, green apple
and thermos of sweet tea.
She eats fast and sets her bearing back to deliberate, hard-earned neutral.