In August he speared tobacco, the long stalk,
like a girl in green skirts, lifting her,
balancing her—then the hollow crack
through the marrow as she came down.
On the ground, the velvet leaves wilted
like difficult tropical things, lopped
for the tourists to poke and hold to the light.
Late in the day, when I drove the tractor
into the field, I watched him shift his weight
and lift each lath to the scaffolding of the wagon.
There was an awkward moment, unmistakable,
when he held the leaves in his arms,
against the length of his body, setting his hand
for the last handling; and he breathed in
the leaves’ dust, his mouth on the leaves’ hair.
Many times in August, the hottest days,
I saw him embrace, like a father who knows his crimes,
these withering girls.

:: Janet Kauffman, Where the World Is (1988)

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