Marty Silverthorne

Breaking For Iris

Working the last field in the bottomland,

the harvester’s roof red with afternoon sun;

sun that tanned everything Iris left uncovered.

Coming to the row’s end, orchestrated by Iris’s

gummy hands: looping, twisting, and turning

leaves stripped from firm stalks.

With a shout she set the afternoon on fire,

“We’re in the short rows now.”

Iris’s muffled giggle ran out to the woods edge,

came back in a Saturday night whisper, circled

us primers beneath her cropping, competing

to buy a slow grind with her at the Tastee Freeze.

Paychecks were folded flames in bluejean pockets,

and we counted aloud each sticky bill hoping to tempt her

as she sang, “One more short row and we’re coming home.”

We bid to buy a place beside her in the truck;

breasts pushing the wind, nipples hard as nickels.

Jumping off the tailgate, Iris’s cut-off hip-huggers

rode in creases. The black strap of her bra

pulled us out of the flat bed, down the dusty road,

towards the back porch where she undressed our minds

and we never made it past that stop.

“They call me coffee ’cause I grind so fine,”

stuck to us until we were dropped off.