Jersey Produce



To water South Jersey beans, tomatoes, peppers, and whatnot
a large hose with a cannon-sized nozzle
is sometimes wheeled out between the rows and opened up.

At the base of the nozzle is a long metal arm
attached at its middle, with a weight
on one end and the other end spatulate and spoon-like.

As the water jets, this thing-a-ma-jig floats like a see-saw
until the spoon-y end swings from the side
and suddenly thwacks the water as it shoots from the hose.

The spoon-end is then thrown backwards until the weight
at the other end makes it swing slowly
towards the jet to crash into it again. What's it there for?

To nudge the water's angle steadily to one side?
For the hose spurts water out
at regular intervals, moving just a little to one side each time,

until it meets the limit set for its motion, when it quickly
swoops back to its starting position
and begins again. There may be something at the hose's base

preset to handle this, to wet solely the right segment of field.
Or maybe the thwacker gizmo
is there just to change the way the water spreads and falls,

so the jets don't uproot the crops. It strikes the spurts just
at their base, making the spray spritz.
But the spouts would soften anyway, never pummeling

the plants, for they lose motion swooping to the end of their flight
and fall gently in silvery sheets and veils.
Maybe the gizmo's there to spray the plants near the rainmaker's base,

while the nozzle douses those at the far end of the arch,
rain for one and rain all around,
neither too little nor too much, no hail or lightning,

no stalk-twisting gusts, just a shower on wheels,
though not for free,
port-a-storm complete with a watch-a-ma-call-it mister,

a clanking cumulo-nimbus cloud towable by tractor.
The produce takes it all in.
Soon there will be containers stacked at the end of each long row,

long hours and sweat from nose and chin watering the sandy soil,
quick wrists and español
rising and falling, row on row, dolores para dólares,

while it all becomes someone else's store-bought bounty
sprayed in front of mirrors
and bushel baskets as if it just spilled over.

 

 

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