Unloading Watermelons

It took three men and three boys
All day to unload four thousand jumbo watermelons
Off two eighteen-wheelers that had just come up
From a watermelon patch in Georgia.
By the end of the day they were so heavy
You couldn’t feel your hands,
But we dropped fifteen out of that many.

For the first time I was working with men.
The men sang Italian folk songs
As they heaved into the load of melons
And I worked to the rhythm of their rough voices.

Nothing quite so red and wet and cool
As a cracked open watermelon on a summer day.
So hard and green a shell
To hold that much water and light,
Hot on the outside from the growing days in the field
To the heat of this day in our hands,
Their cool waters quenched our thirst,
They were both our bread and drink.

What sweet pollens of sunset
Summer spreads upon the wind;
Flowers from which swell this immense fruit,
Red honey in a hive of black bees.

On the bus home my body slept.
My fingers were smooth as the fine sand
On the rinds of the melons.
All night I was like a vine and my head was growing.

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