The first group places stacks
of plastic tubs at every row’s end
for the next group that’s approaching;
they’ll be grabbed up on the turn.
Remaining in the rows are the
full tubs loaded down with weighty
clusters, for collection by the
third group in the rear.
Most everyone is Guatemalan, and gloved,
clippers in their hands or in their pockets.
Low to the ground and broad of back,
the Guatemalan bodies suit their tasks.
The air crackles with the sound of water droplets
on a burner set to high; the clippers clipping
briskly in the crispy morning air. There is very little
talking. They’ll take 30 tons and more in just a day.
A young man has cut his left index finger badly
with his clippers. I take him to the barn, pour alcohol
on the cut, wrap his finger with a sloppy combination
of gauze and dried-out tape. He smiles and runs
back to the rows when I am done. My clippers
move at half the pace when I am working.
Partly I inspect the grapes too long,
nervous as a novice, and I’m clumsy too.
In less than ten minutes I am bleeding; the same finger.
In four years’ time, if your wine tastes strangely
of a strange initiation, then I hope it’s while you’re toasting
something serious as blood.