Pollen clotted on the irrigation ponds. In abandoned pastures Bees nosed the Queen Anne's Lace And struck dark nectar. Blue-white haze hung like mull Over cornfields. Weeds seeded themselves. Lettuce bolted and turned bitter. On groundvine tomatoes Black scars seamed the stem ends Where the fruit had split and healed. It all smelled of ferrous water And ferment. No matter how hot it got My Dad and Uncle Pete kept their workshirts on. All day long we'd hide in the red pines, Flat on our backs and sunk In crisp twin needles. We'd stare up at those slender trunks. They were perfect as masts. Our sky was forest green and cumulous. There, my cousins and I would plot it out In low, oracular voices -- How we'd all go away to school and wouldn't marry Until our late twenties. Well, maybe Twenty-six. Most of the time we agreed We'd each have four kids -- two boys and two girls. Our husbands stayed awake in the easy chair, And their palms never tasted of salt.

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