At the farmer’s market in Rosarito, Mexico,
a man touched my arm.
He sat on a stool at a wooden table,
and in the center,
a blue pitcher of water beaded under the sun.
Hunkered over his lap,
he worked with a gouge on a block of walnut,
and he blew at the dust,
and the dust swirled in the breeze.
Done stripping the sapwood vulnerable to rot,
the man held the heart of the wood,
a purple wood hard against
the chisel’s cutting edge.
He looked up from his work,
and his gray eyes told me I must listen.
“This wood must be strong
or the heart cracks before the real work is done.
See this?” he asked softly,
and he lifted a mallet carved
from a branch of apple, “Strong wood,” he said.
“It wanted to be more than a tree.”
He rubbed fresh walnut dust between his palms.
We drank glasses of ice water,
talked about life in general,
and he used the pitcher,
billowed and wet like the sail of a boat,
to cool his neck.
Later, through the soft meat of an avocado,
I felt the pit longing to be free.