How My Father-in-Law Harvested Olives in Tucson
When he first settled, he was struck by the number
of olive trees in the neighborhood
and the indifference faced by their laden boughs.
He went from home to home, knocking at each door,
asking if he could pick some of the sun-ripened
olives hanging low on branches.
“You’d be doing us a favor, these trees are so messy!
They’re going to waste anyway.”
A basket under the arm, he did his rounds, wearing
a proud smile as he’d bring home his harvest.
He’d cover them with water, changing it daily
till it came clear of bitterness.
Then, he’d delicately smash their firm skin one
by one in a stone mortar before stacking them
in tall jars, adding salt and vinegar, slivers of lemon,
garlic cloves, oregano sprigs and lots of olive oil.
Smoking his narguileh in his backyard,
he counted the days for the olives to be cured,
reminiscing of the orchards of his youth,
of the way the breeze wafted through waves
of silvery leaves, breaking the light into mirrored
reflections before blossoms were even formed.
Eyes closed, he could feel the air heavy with laughter,
redolent of jasmine and orange groves.