Image by Vicki Frerer

The Saffron Picker

The Saffron Picker

It is necessary to pick 150,000 crocuses in order to produce one kilogram of saffron.

Soon, she'll crouch again above each crocus,
feel how the scales set by fate, by misfortune
are an awesome tonnage: a weight opposing

time. Soon, the sun will transpose its shadows
onto the faces of her children. She knows
equations: how many stigmas balance each

day with the next; how many days divvy up
the one meal; how many rounds of a lustrous
table the sun must go before enough yellow

makes a spoonful heavy. She spreads a cloth,
calls to the competing zeroes of her children's
mouths. An apronful becomes her standard -

and those purple fields of unfair equivalence.
Always that weight in her apron: the indivisible
hunger that never has the levity of flowers.


from Cut By Stars (River Road Press, 2007), © Judith Beveridge 2007, used by permission of the author and River Road Press

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