The Wetbacks have followed me to Eden. They’re huddled in summer layers, just beyond the gates. It’s the third day of the first hard freeze and they’ve come to strip the Burly tobacco, hanging in the great blue barns across the way.
I watch, as the restless youngers paw the frozen earth, marveling at their breath and waiting, while fathers learn from fathers the seduction of the brittle skins. When a verdict is made, they disperse into the barns and I hear them, taunting one another as they ladder the cured smoke down from the eaves: lush echoes of tropical color there inside the moon-skin steel walls, galvanized with frost.
I do so want to uncoil myself from these gray branches and join them in their work, sit beside the fires and eat the strange flat breads and marvelous spiced meats; these men, who have brought the sun and the heat of summer with them in their skin. But I don’t share their nakedness, their abandon. I never ate from that Tree. I am ashamed and there are angels, still, who guard the gates with swords of fire.