Dust Song

Dust is everywhere, hovering.

A menacing cloud behind the tractor
as Otousan plants the beds.
It billows up from under our feet
as we follow the seeder.

Dust in our hair, smudged on our faces,
stained on Otousan’s once-white shirt.
Kazami coughs, covers his nose and mouth.

I look up at the darkening sky,
my eyes pleading for drops of rain
to fall from above.

Rain, rain, rain, please, rain, rain.
I am chanting in my head as I switch the seed.
please give Otousan a break
from late night drip tape running,
please erase our collective, hopeless sigh
when Otousan announces it is time
to switch the water, again,
Rain, will you not come? Please, please, rain…

Val and Sydney yell across the field.
Pull on the other side.
I put it on the wrong row!

Asa wraps twine taut around tomato poles
in the greenhouse, securing the tall vines
as the sun begins to dive into the trees
setting the tips on fire,
the rest a silhouette
against orange-red sky.

It almost rained this morning.
Did you see those clouds?

Kazami pipes up beside me.
Otousan answers quietly as he flips through seed,
deciding what to plant next:
It almost rained…
But what can you do?
His voice drips hopelessness.

We finish our planting
when most sunlight has faded.
It is impossible now to read
the numbers on the seed plates.
The drip tape lines are set up,
beds upon beds planted,
tomatoes trellised, sun set.
The dust remains,
one drop of water
not yet fallen from the sky.

My chants continue as Otousan drives,
headlights bright against the dark, dry field of dust.
Rain, rain, rain, please, rain, rain…

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