Tending the Gold Ridge, 1920Each day a new field was plowed and planted.
Each season production would swell. Each fruit
handpicked into wooden crates, delivered
by wagon or truck to the packinghouse.
Then, the small, red-striped globes were placed
into shipping crates. How tiring to
stand ten hours a day sorting good from bad.
It was women’s work. Closed-doored, but
checkered with sunlight brought from high windows.
A dull, quiet work that could open or
close that quiet wilderness of mind.
Decades later, when their bodies had grown
old, when their minds strobbed memories—
that wilderness (however conquered) would
return. In a few lines by Tennyson
about an old king who traveled far and
couldn’t return home: but every hour is saved.
How those words illuminate the musty smell
of the packing house, the ache of feet,
but also the ballet of young hands, the hum
of low voices staving off silence with
by repeating the few poems they knew by heart