Once, there was a path from springhouse to kitchen’s side
entrance splitting the hill. Once, there was a sudden almost-
funeral: daughter gasping in the water trough, pushed in by
older brother now turned senator. Farmers once retrieved
dippers for clear gulps between harvest and the afternoon
milking, the springhouse door fashioned to resist an Indian
hatchet. Never has the ground renounced its bubbling over.
Never has the orchard needed anything but “seconds” (fruit
already dropped) to achieve reincarnation in aluminum tins.
See? Collected bruises never tasted so good. The secret is to
let split skins feel holy while bobbing in water called up from
family land. Once, you lugged late peaches to the porch, cut
all the good bits into bowl after bowl. The honeybees came,
so you offered sloppy fingers, held them out for other mouths
like you’ve done all this time. The barn’s leper face, the best
John Deere sold, the dinner bell silent, mostly. You held out.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.