In her front yard, a peach tree heavy with fruit,
around its base a tractor tire filled with ditch dirt
where she plants tomatoes in cages
and waters them with a blue watering can;
cigarette smoke hovers around her head hung with silver strands
that drift in wisps to her waist. Winstons and matches
are always in the pocket of her cotton apron
when she is in the garden because she cannot smoke inside.
When the watering is done and she sits
in a wood rocker on the porch of the built-on trailer
that once was their camp but is now their home,
winter or summer, spring or fall,
and finishes her smoke with long, slow drags, making it last,
making it last.
Over the hill from the peach tree the coonhounds shift sadly on their chains
and one jumps to the roof of his dog house
as if to better see the road, the trailer, and the man inside
who wheezes with the steady beat of the oxygen tank
and watches hunting shows on TV, as if maybe one night
he will unchain the dogs, grab his gun, and walk the midnight hills again.
She waits in her rocker, puffing blue billows, and looking at the tree,
the tomatoes, the road, at nothing and everything,
one day after another, like all the others; she sees the peaches swell,
the tomatoes redden and ripen, and listens
to the steady hiss of oxygen, the exhale of life,
the coming of winter.