The Packing House
by Jannie M Dresser
Thursday, April 09, 2009
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What the Children Saw
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That old Clovis road
smelled of peaches rotting.
Sunrise, driving to work
at the packing house, I watched
in the hot asphalt.
By early afternoon
the thin heat lowered
on the packers
as we stood along the conveyor belt
below a sheet metal roof.
At break Hilda and me
drove to the nearest
irrigation ditch and threw murky water
over our hot shoulders,
then back to stand,
soaking wet in our positions.
The whole day the boss' teenage son
rode around us
in his black Firebird
with the red competition stripes.
Sometimes he'd strut by
and order us not to talk.
Late in the day, dry dust
rose from the dirt road
where old cars and pickup trucks
came back from the orchards,
full of men, sweaty from picking,
returning to their shacks
behind the owner's house.
Just past sundown packers went home
raising a cloud above every set of headlights.
We drove past the white pillared mansion,
past the rich green pasture,
past sleek quarter horses grazing,
into a sunset of overripe peaches.
We looked, exhausted, into the evening,
too tired to notice our long dark stream
of old beat up cars.
This poem won an Honorable Mention in a contest sponsored by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and 1st place in a contest hosted by Americas Review literary journal.