by Gillian Wegener
Her Love, 1922
Seventeen when we married,
I knew nothing of love
and was so… disappointed
at the ordinariness of our lives.
No clench, no flutter,
This doesn’t mean I didn’t love him, no,
but it took me years to understand
that love dissolved itself
into the everyday,
into the way I pressed his handkerchiefs,
and set out the spoons just so next to the knives,
into the way he took his coffee,
and into the way I could hear him
coming up the street from the train
and knew from the sound of his stride
if it had been a good day or a bad.
He’s been gone so long, my Robert.
Love dissolves into the everyday.
I wish I’d understood this sooner.
He’s been gone so long.
From the book of personal essays:
Peach Farmer's Daughter
by Brenda Nakamoto
A can of cling peaches opens with a swooshing sound
of air rushing inward as the can opener bites into metal. The
sweet aroma of cooked peaches escapes. I breathe in, inhale.
A translucent, syrupy liquid submerges the severed lid, and I
wind the can opener blade completely about the edges, then
gingerly lift a sharp tin ridge with my fingers.
The yellow halves of peaches shine in this viscous
syrup; my mouth waters as I dip in a spoon. Floating in the
glossy medium, slick and wet, the peach evades my attempts
to grab it, sliding this way and that. Spoon and rounded flesh
skate next to each other. I manage to lift one peach half out
of the can, dripping a line of syrup onto the counter and to
my bowl. I try getting another. The second is easier and two
peach halves meet, sliding atop the other. Skinned, pitted and
cooked, this peach resembles little of its former self, scooped
into the shape of a full moon. I bite. This peach tastes like
This twenty-nine-ounce can holds eight halves, a total
of four peaches. I paid $2.49 for it. That makes each whole
peach worth about sixty cents. I can’t help but calculate. I
should know. Dad was never paid that much for his peaches,
though. He was lucky to get a hundred dollars a ton for what
he sent to the cannery. To think now that my father made a
living and raised three daughters by farming cling peaches
is amazing. I bite into the peach half, feel my teeth tear into
flesh. It is chewy. That’s the spirit of a cling. There’s a wholesome body to the fruit that withstands the ordeal of harvest and its sometimes brutal transport to the cannery. So different is the cling compared to the freestone, the kind of peach sold fresh in the produce section of the grocery store, carefully picked and packed into separate slots on a small, plastic tray. The freestone is delicate. The pit separates easily from the flesh; and when this fruit is cooked, its texture withers in comparison to that of the cling, the king, in my opinion, of
I imagine that few who taste this fruit hear the lyrical
voices of the Mexican braceros as they had picked cling
peaches, dropping them into their belly-covering canvas
picking bags strapped onto their waists and shoulders and
then dumping them into wooden bins. But I do, and as I suck
on the juices of the peaches circling in my bowl, the songs
and whistles of those farm workers crescendo.
I immerse my spoon into syrup, scoop it across the
peach half and watch the juices run off the sides like water
beading down the window in a rainstorm. Then I see my father
through a distortion, through the developing haze of fog
and mist, holding a clear plastic umbrella in the shape of a
mushroom above him. He is in a forest green rain jacket and
rain pants with a hood over his head. On his face he wears
goggles and a carbon filter mask. I can’t see much of him. I
see only his green tent. He drives a tractor pulling a spray rig
that’s roaring as loud as a jet engine and sending a mist of
chemicals arching into the tree rows. The peach leaves and
branches batter and whip against each other in the artificial
wind that gusts from the back of the spray rig. When finished,
those things touched by the spray glisten with moisture.
I smell it, an acrid, sulfuric odor creeping inside the
closed windows of our farmhouse; and I feel the vibration
of the screeching propeller blades of the sprayer through my
feet on the floor. I am here and my dad is out there, out in the
thick of it. It’s for the peaches, I know. It is his way of protecting them, and in a way, of protecting me.
I swallow another piece of cooked peach flesh, feel it slide
down my throat. My father and the Mexicans braceros disappear. I am alone again, it’s just me; and I welcome this peach, my old friend.