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.”




“Story Told While Pruning” first appeared in Aluminum Times (Davis: Swan Scythe Press, 2002).