Monday, August 25, 2008

Michael McClintock: MEN OF PROPERTY

I let my eyes and hands run over the tools he had used—the trowel, the spade, the mulching fork. I gazed at the few remaining tin pails, enameled green, and recalled how the one got its crimped side and the other its bullet hole. I pocketed the worn canvas gloves; the man buying the place had much smaller hands than dad’s, and could not wear them. But all the tools and pails and contents of the shed he said he would use, and would be grateful to have them.

I stepped out of the shed and walked onto the broad sloping hillside, only a small corner of which belonged to the property. The shed was planted in the middle of six rows of fruit trees, six trees to a row, with extra room made for the shed and open ground around it for loading boxes with fruit from the buckets: oranges, lemons, plums. I could still hear my father from somewhere in the trees calling to my brother and me, to bring him a ladder, or come get the dog, or haul out the pails full of fruit, or stop horsing around and go in to supper—he’d follow.

hefting a plum—
I know by heart
my father’s orchard

by Michael McClintock
Fresno, California
first published in Anthology of Days (Backwoods Broadsides, No. 70)

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