The summer everybody said I was old enough to pick beans, my uncle threw me a long sack as I climbed into the back of his old blue Ford. In a little bit, the sun would wink over the dark hills that twisted along behind as we rattled ahead, swinging waves of dust over the wire fences. The rows of beans were still wet with the night's breath, but nobody waited to get started. An old woman and her boy already knelt in rows next to me, so I started crawling down mine, pulling thin green fingers of beans from the stalks, then turning to stuff handfuls in the long bag that dragged behind me like a white cocoon. When I paused to wipe sweat from my eyes near the end of my row, the old woman was already working back on her second row. "You just have to keep your head down and think of something else," she said as she pulled her bag closer. As I turned back to the rest of my row, the first weight of a day's work settled on me, knees finding their way into the earth's soft dirt.
Beat-up trailer sagging in weeds at the end of the gravel lane. Old Buick, sunlight sprawled over scuffed rag top, pulled in tight against the lilac hedge. Harley, front wheel angled out toward the two-lane highway, leather seat wrinkled with dew. Fuel tank shimmering chrome, ready to thunder, cough out morning smoke from its lungs, heavy metal blasting free at the red light, throttle wrenched, pipes shuddering kingdom come.
RON STOTTLEMYER lives in Helena, Montana. After a long career as a professor/scholar, he has returned to his love of writing poetry. His work has appeared in Alabama Literary Review, The Sow’s Ear, The American Journal of Poetry, Streetlight Magazine, Stirring, West Texas Literary Review, Temenos, South Florida Poetry Journal, Rust and Moth, Twyckenham Notes, Split Rock Review, The Worchester Review, and, recently, The Peregrine Journal and The Chattahoochie Review. His poem “Falling” (Twyckenham Notes, Summer 2018), was awarded a Pushcart Prize, appearing in the 2020 edition of the anthology. He’s compiling a manuscript for his debut volume of poems.
Cover image by Adrian Huth.
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