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THE RIGHT

Every Fall, sure as bucks turn blue,
honkers are disappearing ink in our sky,

just when peaches, pears, apples,
berries are ripe and waiting on me,
and what with hunters
to put-up and feed, calves to wean,
fat lambs to ship,

I look up from my paring knife
and me oh my, here he comes
packing a lug of wild plums
with a smile he could use for collateral.

He brings them in calf buckets, beer
cartons, grocery sacks, or pour on boxes.
– anything in his pickup that will hold plums.
Once he stuffed them in an o.b. glove.

He and the Paiute women guard their secret
thickets in steep canyons.
No need. Town folks are content to dab
their toast with Smuckers or Welches
— city-grown jam. I guess wild plums
aren’t organic enough, or worth
scratched arms and tore up clothes ‘cause
no plum bush gives up its fruit without drawing blood.

I wash, pit, and cull the wormy ones:
        2 c. plums to 1 c. Sugar
        Set ‘em overnight so they’ll juice,
        4 min. at a boil that won’t stir down.
That’s it. Fast as he picks them,
I put up his ruby red jam.

Come breakfast time, he grabs a biscuit
and heads toward a jar with a TABLESPOON
as if he has the right.

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