he told me to put on my work clothes
so i took his black and red checked flannel
that hung in the garage, pulled it over my head and it felt like
a dress, almost too beautiful. he had so many clothes for working.
he told me to follow him down across the street
and the dog ran beside us, didn’t know to look both ways.
you always have to look both ways, count to three.
and in the garden he told me what to pick.
he told me to be gentle, and to thank the plants.
he told me “here’s how you pick potatoes,”
and he stuffed his hands beneath the soil,
felt around with his eyes to the mountains,
and pulled out one the size of his fist,
shook off the dirt and it was so red, and so round.
i put my hands in beside his and touched his fingers
before digging for my own. i felt my nails turn black.
it’s a careful thing, he told me when i went to toss
my small harvest into the wooden bushel basket
with its wired handles.
he placed his softly on the slatted bottom, and i did the same,
thinking we would never fill it if we took this extra time.
the sun was falling and my knees were damp as we walked back;
up ahead, i could see the ends of his hair turning gold.