Beach Street, Watsonville
On school days, I drive my turquoise ’65 Chevy Vega II station wagon on Beach Street,
a straight shot into town past a couple of miles of black and green lettuce fields.
One Saturday, I travel the same road on my rusty bicycle,
a slower pace,
watching the fields where so many
people move hunched over the earth, early at work.
Ahead I see two farmworker women at break time, talking as they sit
on the bank of the ditch, half-filled with water,
that separates the road from the field.
They are wearing high-necked, long-sleeved shirts,
cloth tennis shoes, worn, muddy jeans.
Bandanas cover their dark hair,
eyes squinting against the dust and sun,
straightening their backs for a few minutes
while they eat their bag lunch, looking at the road.
I break the monotony of their view and they notice my approach.
One woman catches my eye and our eyes meet across mud, asphalt and the dusty air,
exchange a silent greeting.
She signals by tilting her face,
nods to direct my attention to the other side of the road,
I catch in my peripheral vision something flutter white,
a snowy egret lifts into flight.
The women and I turn together
catch our breath by the egret’s turning grace.