John Olivares Espinoza

Story Told While Pruning

“His grandfather and mule were coming down a mountain into the valley. His mule
carried firewood, an axe, and a jug filled with a sweet rice drink. In the field below
was a girl as stunning as a peach sunset. Her red hair was magma flowing down the
earth of her back. She was plucking sweet potatoes when he spotted her. Then the mule
tripped over a rock as big as a boot. She giggled as he gathered the firewood.
He met her at the bottom. To save face, he told the girl, ‘Your smile is the daylight
spreading like honey over our giving fields.’”
That is how I retell the tiny story he told me. “My grandfather had a way with words,” the
gardener says. Caught up in pruning and conversation, the gardener snips off the tip of
his forefinger. His finger begins dripping like a broken sprinkler. “Would you believe
that?” he says. “My hands are so darkened with dirt, I mistake my fingers for rose stems.”

John Olivares Espinoza
Story Told While Pruning first appeared in Aluminum Times (Davis: Swan Scythe Press, 2002).