Kwame Dawes, “Peach Picking” [Poetry for Ordinary Time]

I’ve enjoyed posting poetry series themed around the Christian year in the past couple of years (see “Poetry for Lent” and “Poetry for Easter“). I will continue that with a series called “Poetry for Ordinary Time.” Ordinary time includes two sections of the church year between Christmastide and Lent and Easter and Advent. The word “ordinary” here derives from the word ordinal by which the weeks are counted. Still, ordinary time does serve an opportunity to embrace the ordinary spaces and places of our lives, and the themes of the poems will express this.

Here is Kwame Dawes’ poem “Peach Picking” from The Georgia Review, Spring 2005. Kwame Dawes is a contemporary poet, born in Ghana and spending most of his youth in Jamaica.


From the dusty road under acacia trees
the house looks like a dream rising in the sharp

clean colors from the common green, passive sea
of unremarkable land, no surprises. She lifts the tarp

and gathers gently the bruised peaches, their water
so near the skin like a blister, the childishness

of their tender peel—how little it takes to scar
them. She fills baskets, planting fruit in a nest

of fresh damp straw, while she counts out
a song that turns into words; a song that feels

as old as the indigo sky and the stoic brick house
teetering like an unsettled boat in the open field

in the middle of nothing: a body with no context,
just the language of loss haunting as a low country hex.


Previous poems in this series: