Jun 9, 2010

Train Station, Hammond, Louisiana

 
photo credit: seattleweekly


stands a peach and plum seller and his grandson,
a pail of peaches for 10,
a basket of plums for 5;
the peaches downy and yellow,
a brown tinge of grass on top of their round facades,
the plums thin, easy to bite into;
they tell me,
a family of fruit sellers,
their white pick-up truck doubles as a storefront
and their transportation,
hailing from Alabama,
with Alabama plates,
traveling farmers,
a round, happy belly, age lines born from cheerfulness,

approaching to buy something with measly dollars,
rumpled in a cheap wallet,
the grandfather goes and sits down,
satisfied,
the grandmother, reading a newspaper,
trusts
her boy to handle the sale,
the morning summer sun heating the concrete;
the glint of an Amtrak train veering into the station;
the boy shows off his produce,
grinning like a seasoned salesman,
but serious when he
points to some small, green colored peaches,
“these here are sour; I don’t like ‘em,
but I can sell ‘em to ya anyway if you like, sir,”
“No, I think I like that basket of plums over there for breakfast,”
The boy, nods, obediently,
“I can sell ‘em to ya if you like, sir”
and hands the green basket like an offering,
placing a peach in the mix for extra,
this act of kindness both part of the sale and a kind of measure of survival,
meeting his eyes just for a second,
broken blue and his hair a matte of red,
a nondescript cap nestled on his head;
he answers questions;
“yeah, we go from Alabama to Mississippi; just came from Chalmette,”
he says, politely answering the queries, as if they are expected, as if he is used to this
 line of questioning —

and I wonder where they are off to next, which town, and for how long —
and slightly envious that it isn’t me, selling those peaches and those plums,

a kind of gentle harmony, biting into the small, but full plum,
its redness firm and meaty; a good feeling to have so early in the morning,
to be a produce seller, to pass off such delicate fruit,
you have to be gentle, and courteous,
making sure you seem to be sharing instead of selling —
and trusting that you are making people happy, sated,
their tummies filled with juices, grown from the earth;
a romanticism is there, for sure;
forgetting the commercial exchange, it is as if one is just picking these peaches and
plums from where they came; hearing the pluck from the branch,
just as natural as giving a handsome tip

 

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