Ready cotton bloats from skeletons so frail they rattle when heat plunks
the sky. Sounds like a storm when it isn't.
We leave early, before the sun.
His match shoots a thread of light in the dark.
Dirt's packed under my fingernails
even when they look clean
they're jagged and chipped
ruts thick with starch and boil
from the lip of the sac.
I ask obvious questions
like how much an hour and quit time
pull details with my eyes and think
you don't fuckin' know me
every time I feel a long stare
or open my mouth to speak.
A few things come from intuition
like weeds and bugs and snakes
but a ton of cobbed kernels
plucked by suppertime
is earned with time
bent between rows
strapping' a long white worm
over miles of dust.
We work 5 by 5 (twelve hours)
pluck and toss, o lord I can
double the weight with rough pick
double the time with hutch
pick a bail a cotton
slit my wrist on that boll
patch it with waxed paper from my sandwich.