Lemon Hill

The poor and lame climb up this hill when the fruit begins to grow.
The going blind watch from the shade and squint at April’s glow.
When flowers finish blooming and the rain pails them away,
petals pour down darkling hills and pollen swims the bay.
In May the buds begin to swell, accelerate their slow
chill winter’s start and form gold orbs absorbing sun in rows.

June’s sun bakes shade from leafy trees where turgid spiders spin
the webs they lime to catch their prey that had its own chance when
down in the roots the fly-nests blew, and the buzz that blind men hate
teased sighted heads as flies laid eggs in eyes, to incubate.
July sees owners mend the wires delineating groves
and joke with wide-eyed pickers who’re returning here in droves.

The healthy climbers harvest two to the blind or cripple’s one
as all hands strive together in the sweltering August sun.
Hands reach up where the branches fork, and arms stretch down to throw
ripe lemons in reed baskets with a braggadocio
that helps them harvest money now, to live on when it’s slow
and dulled eyes shine reflecting back when fruit began to grow.

© Alan Reynolds. Published in THE ARMCHAIR AESTHETE, Issue 16, Summer, 2001, New York.
Having taken a ferry from an island to the Greek mainland, we cycled uphill to a lemon grove exuding a fragrance I thought literally ‘heavenly’ in a place that was an antonym of ‘haven.’ Half-starved cats, more semi-persecuted scavengers than pets, wandered among people suffering from white-eyed blindness that I guessed, perhaps correctly, came from blow-flies. And heptameter meter ‘chose me’ to try to portray the strange mix of richly fruiting trees with heat-stilled inhabitants.

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