The only shady spot for that lone Aberdeen Angus
bull was under the crab-apple tree outside our kitchen
window. So many green apples we threw at it
till it pulled up anchor, farting sloppily, mooing
with a gut ache across the open paddock.
When the corner of the picking sack tore off
and the fastening hook plunged into my eye I
screamed twice, although my mate, Robbo,
told me it was definitely three times, third time
being the silent scream in my head made manifest.
Old Joe, the boss, a ball of muscle like a bullfrog,
looked more shocked than me at the conjunction
of eye and hook. Robbo drove me to hospital where
they discovered, still I can hardly believe it,
no major damage. Day off work.
Next morning everyone else returned to picking.
I almost grew bored throwing apples at that bull.
Mrs. Joe, the Italian mama, sat me down
at the laminex table, changed the dressing on my eye,
counting the drops she squeezed into it, uno,
due, tre,her tomato sandwiches for morning tea,
the soft rain of her fingers on my face
the gentlest thing I’d felt in years.