artwork: ralph murre
by Margaret Hasse
They labor along the straight lines
of parallel rows, the farm boy, the town girl
earning an hourly wage for her college fund,
weeding, staying even with each other,
loving like crazy each other’s smell.
He has the slight acrid burn of green leaves.
She, catmint––residue of shampoo––
her hair streaked shades of brown
like foxtail grasses in the sun.
His Tom body yowls in the backyard
of his brain that he wants that minty weed.
She longs for the end of the row
when they will sit in the bed of a dirty truck
against warm rubber tires and drink
lemonade with tongues so keen
you could map the exact spot where
the sugar of desire does its dream business,
where the lemon pulp—call it
her education plan, his religious training—
persists in its tart denial.
A bean in its ripe casing hangs on a stem,
three fuzzy lumps in its throat. One for the boy,
one for the girl, and one for how the hinge
of what might happen to them swings slightly,
opening here, closing there.
~ first published in The Talking of Hands (New Rivers Press)