Another summer poem…
Our tires chewed the gravel road,
Tossing rocks into the palm of a single beam of sunlight
As we pulled the car crookedly into his driveway.
He sat enthroned in the yawning wood of his tumbledown rocking chair –
Still as the stale air of his ripening trees,
The former glory of Ray’s Peaches.
The A-frame sign by the old highway
Had lost two letters from the downpours of time,
The decay of decades, remainders from rain
And the Carolina sun,
The ghostly silhouette of the first a and the second e
Unveiling the bright white of the untanned parts
And a vacant apostrophe near the top.
Ray watched as my family and I leapt from the car
And asked for a couple baskets for the peaches,
His freckled grin brawling against the worn grooves
Of his cheeks, and his eyes still laughing like the sky.
We plucked our swollen wonders,
Warm as hands,
And kissed the gentle clouds with our giggling.
Ray simply watched as we lugged our teeming baskets to the scale,
Fifty cents a pound, peaches discounted
As a favor to the family grandfathered by the town preacher.
He felt the sharp cool of dollars between his thumb and finger
And winked at my daughter, quick enough to only spill
A flutter of magic at her dancing feet.
And as she paused to glance at Old Ray
Of Ray’s Peaches,
She lay her basket in the grass and scooped the smell of earth
Into her little hands,
Thanked Mr. Ray for the fruit,
And turned with her clasped fingers toward the car
While Ray lifted a prayer to God
That Elizabeth may turn her eyes down from heaven
To their small peach farm once more
As he kissed the gentle clouds
And shuffled to their bed to sleep.