stringing beans

Moon # 1343 - Fractal Art by Don Archer

by 6:30 our fingers are hot numb crisscrossed
in friction ridges that will snag
and bleed within the hour,
dragging red stains along the twine.
two days of irrigation, sun, and hoe dust
will mute miles of bean string
to a shade of soft grey
like we never bled there at all
this year I am tall enough, quick enough
to sail a spool over lead wires,
catch it unwinding,
then pass it to my grandmother
who crawls on her knees beside me
she wraps the anchor wire with one hand
pitches the spool back to me with the other.
bean strings must be tight enough
for plants to climb, loose enough
not to snap when wind slaps at them
bean strings must be perfect.
I cannot be trusted yet
to crawl my aches alone
through dirt chunk acres
stitching a harvest yet months away
we clench words in our teeth
like drinking straws. it is too early to talk.
her breath huffs out silver by my hip.
five rows beyond us, grandpa's hammer
cracks morning open on new stakes
lost in the sizzle of sun on wet shoots
I break our rhythm
stumbling over fist sized knots of dirt.
the string is already dashed red in places
but my hands haven't bled yet
behind us, twine scrimshaws the field
like the face of the woman
on her knees in the dirt beside me
(appeared in They Drivem Pickup Trucks, They Shootem Shotguns -- Renay's chapbook, published by A Small Garlic Press, 1996)
Renay is a graphic designer and a Gemini, neither of which impresses anyone. She currently lives in Southern New Mexico, although, her heart belongs to the northern half of the state. She looks really good in red.

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