Market Gardener

People saw the difference of course –
the only Asian face that shared a town
with celt-descended Methodists. But we
were luckier than most; we met before
our prejudice had time to set. We found
a difference that our parents missed and when
he worked the school-side of his patch we stayed
and talked awhile, five minutes, ten, no more.
But in that little time he’d always speak
as one adult to others and we’d grow
to men as old as he was – careful men
who shared a commonsense of things. And then
cracked hands slid up the handle and the hoe
would lift, pause, drop and chop at clods again.
And we’d return to children going home –
and distances set in. It’s strange – in spite
of all the years between us now his voice
is with me still – it matched the man, polite
concerned of course, but rather far away.


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