The Walnut Picker

 

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I used to watch her as she filled her bucket with
Freshly-picked walnuts in the old courtyard
It felt as if I was viewing a film from the past
Or an artist’s masterpiece; so perfect was the scene
Somehow I sensed her presence when autumn days
Set in and the sun prepared for its winter retreat

She too sensed mine; she’d look up at the sandstone
Building from sixteen-thirty-nine and wave shyly
Then look at her palms and laughing, showed her
blackened hands; no longer worried about decorum
For her days of vanity had long passed and
Her floral dress billowed softly in the gentle breeze

I cannot describe the sadness I felt this year when I
Saw her empty bucket lying on its side
The shivering trees sent signals of loss as
Fruits spread over shadowed ground
The scene without the walnut lady was sad
And I sensed that something was amiss

Someone said her mind betrayed her in the end
That she spends her days picking imaginary fluff from
Childhood memories. The walnut tree stands erect
In memory of her happy face as she picked the perfect
fruit off its limbs; waiting for her smiling face
And the loving touch of blackened walnut-picking hands.

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