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To Hear the Leaves Sing

Blas Manuel De Luna

Going down Highway 99, to Modesto,
I see an orange glow in the sky.
At first I think it is a fire, but, as I get closer,
it is the lights of a packinghouse,
where women work through the night,
giving up the fire of their lives,
to get the peaches to market.

Ten minutes later I pass
the Avenue 20 off-ramp, the ramp
that, in summers, would take me
to the peach fields of Madera,
where, as the sun rose to its peak
in the brilliant sky,
and the bitter dust
settled in my throat,
I would stand on a ladder,
my heavy sack pulling me down,
and throw peaches, as fast
as I could, into the trees,
to hear the leaves sing,
the tiny branches break.