selective focus of plants

Poetry No. 86 – Jianqing Zheng


by Jianqing Zheng

—Dorothea Lange’s Lunchtime for Cotton Hoers, Mississippi DeltaJune 1937

After hoeing the cotton field 
the whole morning, 
the girl slumps on the pallet
in a sliver of shade 
and gulps a bottle of soda,
her face like a blank lake 
with no ripples to stir it. 

She wears a white bandana 
and hoop earrings, 
a look of placid beauty.
Behind her, sunlight
spangles through leaves
like drifting bubbles.

When lunchtime is over,
she stands up, follows
other hoers to the field
to hoe the hot afternoon 
into striking bells.

Jianqing Zheng’s poetry collections include The Dog Years of Reeducation and A Way of Looking. He lives in the Mississippi Delta where he edits Valley Voices: A Literary Review.

Photo by VH S on

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