Saving the Peaches
At my grandparents’ peach orchard, divided
From their farm by Interstate 35,
Built on their land we took a truck across—
We ten kids in the back, no danger feared—
At the seasonal pick your own peach stand,
Uncles hand out bushel baskets to all
Comers as they go to pick their own peaches.
Tall arms like sails just filling up with wind
Reach up for the bright peach globes, and cousins
Hunker down in red Oklahoma dirt.
Aunt Rita and Uncle John weigh results
And collect money for the rosy peaches,
Happy to be in the orchard summer
While the crop is in, ready and soft, ripe
As sunset. When we brush against bull nettle,
Only the wet dirt can cure the red welts.
In the fall peach preserves served as dessert,
And through the winter, they burned in their jars.
I remember late last spring the hubbub—
We were sent to bed without cobbler—
The night freeze sent the grown-ups scurrying
To the orchard with smoking iron pots.
I remember the grass was white like lace.
The leaves crackled, the periwinkle died.
The fire kept living in the iron pots,
Its roses deep inside the flaming night
Adult hands carried to the base of trees
To save the future fruit in predawn cold.
My grandmother stayed behind to keep us.
I was shushed and not soothed and could not sleep
When the peach crop would be wrecked with frost.
My aunts and uncles, arms strained with red coals,
Again and again tromped across the orchard
To bear the burning toward the new pink buds.
Robin Scofield is the author of Flow, which was named Southwest Book of the Year by the Border Regional Library Association, and Sunflower Cantos, as well as a chapbook, And the Ass Saw the Angel. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Western Humanities Review, The Texas Observer, Theology Today, West Texas Literary Review, Cimarron Review, and The Warwick Review. She has poems appearing in Pilgrimage, Ponder Review, and The Gyroscope Review. She writes with the Tumblewords project and lives in El Paso, Texas, with her husband and her Belgian Shepherd dog, Winston.