Before the sun blushes
they pack pick-ups, snail the road.
Earthworms jerk loose leftover
moon from mud under walnut hulls.
In this valley's nooks,
aldrin settles. Where gold-dark farmers
sieve through leaves and sticks,
their metacarpals clotted with the ache
of many daybreaks washing
eyebrows & moth-bitten collar flaps.
They breathe dust of stone-fruit,
inhale vapor from blue enameled mugs
tinged with the blackest coffee,
bitter as the lady bugs are red, grazing
bark aphids. All morning long,
shells clicking in burlap sacks, the kind
of percussion that makes blow flies
whirl, boll weevils stutter awake.
All morning long, braceros,
nut-brown to the touch & shimmying
pesticide and damp earth,
the hymn of sweat and spasm, of thirst.
All morning long, glory
to the bitter star draped across
their straw hats drenched
in toil, smelling of the long road home.
You clap night's torso with igneous stone
heaped at the feet of hesper palms
whisked teal beneath a moon wedge.
On your face, octagonal glim
harvested from the street corner,
dinning vehicles gurgle through your diastema.
Poppies brim the I-10 onramp,
Santa Ana wind unlaces wirescape,
plucking roof shingles into the city's outskirts.
Men in hard hats torque jackhammers,
cleaving this basin of cement slabs;
CAT tractors corralled in diamond mesh.
Oncoming flare reflects off traffic vests
white like the hushed exchange
of foaming sea water on rock.
Verbiage shifts skyward from your tongue,
cursing spackle and mortar, mirroring a tilde
that floats above mañana.
I spot Hyrda's yellow squiggled
on your cornea, as you recall cornfields
in a faraway pueblo razed by drought;
agaveros who displanted varietal crops,
and overtook roads to the marketplace.
A lavender morph kingsnake scrunches
the final breath of a field mouse: its ribcage made useless.
We are overcome by the sense of redaction,
the impression of our soleslifted from the sand.
ADRIAN T. QUINTANAR is from Pomona, California and received an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, and a BA from Hampshire College, and also serves as the managing editor of Chapter House Journal. Adrian’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Santa Ana River Review, Hinchas de Poesia, Kweli Journal, Peripheries: a journal of word and image and Denver Quarterly.