As a girl
She would crack watermelons open in the field
And eat the dark red flesh, glistening
Against the dark green rind
As the sun sank down in an endless sky.
In the morning
The sun would rise again, as it always does—
The start of another backbreaking day
Of hoeing and bailing and picking and planting,
Gentle fingers rubbed raw
By the brittle stalk,
The barren stubble of another season,
Coming to an end.
“Jill, time for dinner!” a voice calls—
Or was it breakfast, or lunch?—No matter.
It is all part of a never ending day of work.
School was a rest, a cool reprieve,
A place to sharpen her already sharp mind,
Naturally inclined for math and analysis but . . .
Nourishment is rare in the country,
Except for a snack stolen between rows,
Or a furtive sip from the garden hose,
Water luke-warm and metallic but oh so good
When it’s all there is.
But she kept going,
Met her man in that school, and married him, too.
Moved to the city and raised two girls—
A different kind of work, broken by trips to the pool and practical jokes
On camping trips,
When they could hide behind a tree and jump out—
Before laughing until they cried,
And dreaming at night in their pop-up camper,
Of watermelon in the sun
And the sticky, glistening rind
Left lying on the ground.