Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tobacco Row by Stephen Saul

She was thirteen, maybe, and black like the earth.
And she would stretch to hang tobacco bundles
high in the air to dry. A black boy, much younger
than she, would sit on the stoop and watch. When
she turned, he looked wide-eyed into the dark
ovals of hers, oblivious to the woman's body taking
shape under the thin cotton dress.

Sometimes, when the sun was setting, I watched
her rise from her knees among the tobacco rows
and sing softly through bee-stung lips. The waning
light caught the growing curves of her breasts and
hips. And she blew on her blistered hands, then
fanned them, to cool the sting.

She wore a straw hat with a band of red silk. Her
long hair, tucked away, worked loose in strands
and fell about her face. She often looked up at me
and waved, her hand clutching tobacco leaves. And
I waved back from the wagon filled with strawberries
on their way to market.


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