The frizzled farmer pushing the pulling, tired draft horse,
his jeans ballooning like pantaloons pinched into rubber boots
sunk and stuck like squash in the shallow fall mud,
his arms swollen loofahs lifting pumpkins up to the children
riding on sweet smelling, dry hay bales in the wagon,
has a “Head like a prize pumpkin,” as Joyce’s Bloom thought
of Tom Wall’s son, and Tom, the frazzled farmer,
declaring this his last pumpkin patch harvest,
prods the horse (whose name is Wally) and wagon to a stop.
The pumpkin picking party hops to the ground and disperses,
and the children caper around the pumpkin field,
Papas and Mamas and Nanas snapping photos orange and blue,
until the farmer calls the pumpkin pickers back to the wagon.
The farmer is a frayed man, his wife explains to a group
waiting patiently at the scales, fretting this pumpkin crop falls sparse,
but that’s just his way, and anyhow, who can talk at a time like this,
all these potential faces, all fat orange cheek puffed, twist handled hair,
heads picked and packed, jugs full of orange pie mash and seeds?
Out in the pumpkin patch, empty faces pass into ooze,
a few pumpkin seeds carried up by blackbirds
and dropped in the next field over, that fallow acre
empty of people picking and parsing
for the right ripe pumpkin, the perfect possible
face, in bed of wet gray hair, muted mouth,
flute feature deadpan face.
A field of plump birds erupts in applause
as a curtain of spitting rain starts to fall.