Ray’s Peaches

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 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.

 

That morning,

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.

 

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My Daughter Speaks with Thunder

This is a poem dedicated to my daughter Julianna, the girl who says hello to the thunder:


My daughter speaks with thunder,

Letting go of a thousand wishes drawn from her little well,

Lips stirred by the sweeping spells of starlight,

A congregation of electric clouds clapping the chorus,

Humming hymns.

 

When lightning rips the violet sky,

Like mice scratching faster than traps,

Cheese in cheek,

My child betrays her young lungs with the fragile yell

Of determined humans,

Daring to harmonize with the heavens.

 

She smiles and dances to me,

The harps in her throat still laughing with song,

When her hands outstretch to unveil

A dozen little berries,

Dizzy from the sugar they’ve drunk,

And I see the glory of this gummy communion,

As my daughter chomps on her backyard treasure,

Barrels her hellos to the evening,

And God the Father belly laughs

A shower of rain in response.