Salinas
Buses arrive in the Valley of the Sun King
dealing out Spanish paragraphs on tongues
of duty, dappled with light and a feeling
of the earth unwormed in dampness, reeling
from the past, but open to the epilogue
of new and late planting, of jugs unsealing.

Scallions bloom, smearing the day with their
pregnant smell and no sound; watermelons
belch so sweet, their pulp simmering in balls
so round around they roll with the kick of a foot
and speak themselves ready to spit their seed if left
just one more summery shower in the ground.

Artichokes organize; their rows are neat,
their hides, appropriately forbidding; they brim
a love of continuity, their good hearts beating
to the avocado's drum, it's green when done
unlike the unrouged peppers, just begun--
stragglers of the season, seasoning some.

All day the pickers move, bent this way
in the U of their existing, in the songs of May
that penetrate the furrows, tingle the roots
of sustaining, the Santo way, the animal, vegetable
the sky and sway, the land gives, except
when it doesn't,
when it takes away.

Al Rocheleau