A Farmer Eats Peaches in Nebraska

He pours the coffee out of an old Mr. Coffee decanter
so brown with the accumulated residue of mornings past
it looks full even when empty. He sits down at his kitchen table
and digs into the morning paper, his dog, a Chesapeake Bay Lab, at his feet.

After finishing the third cup – out of repetition timed to coincide
with his finishing the obits in section D – he gets up from the table
and puts the cup in the sink. After washing out the cup,
he opens a drawer just to the right of the sink and picks out
a clean tablespoon, saying to the dog as he holds it up,
“Time to go to work, Rusty.”

He grabs an apron dirtied with orange and brown smears
from the basement door, puts it over his head, opens the door
and trudges downstairs to get to the morning’s work.

He’s made this trip so many times, there’s no need to turn on the lights.
He navigates his way through the basement using the greyish light
from the cellar windows. He grabs a full mason jar of peaches
from bank of floor-to-ceiling shelves along the East wall.
He walks to a beaten up wooden table in the center of the basement
and places the jar on the table. He clicks down on the chain of
a single lightbulb hanging over the table, sits down on a rickety wooden
folding chair, opens the lid – listening for the unmistakable pop of
a vacuum coming unsealed – picks up a spoon and digs in.

When he is done the jar, he places it in a wooden box
on the floor to his right, walks back over to the rows of
jarred peaches, grabs the next jar off of the shelf,
and proceeds to eat it in the same manner – straight through
and in silence.

At noon he goes up for lunch – lunch consisting of
a single cup of coffee and some crackers smeared
with peanut butter.

Around 1PM, he heads back downstairs. Pulling jar after jar
off of the shelf and digging in – soullessly and without joy – all afternoon.

At 4:45PM, he rolls the large garbage can that’s been next to him
all day to a corner of the basement, picks up the trapdoor and
dumps out its contents, which don’t look too different after coming up
than they did before going down – maybe a little pulpier.
When its contents have been dispatched, he washes out the can
with a garden hose and brings it back to the table. He bends down
and takes the wooden box filled with empty mason jars
to the basement sink where he washes and dries jar each jar
before putting it back in. When all the jars are washed, he takes
the box of empties back to where he started his work for the day,
and places each empty jar back on the shelf – counting aloud as he does.

He goes back to the table and places the now empty wooden box
on the floor. Before clicking off the lightbulb, he picks up a framed photo
of his wife on the table, kisses it and say, “That was delicious Mawd.”

There are only 754 jars of peaches left.

At this rate, it will take him a little over 6 weeks to finish them all,
which means he’ll have to pick up his pace if the doctor is right about
how much time he has left after the last set of scans.

This is will do, as he is determined
that their bounty will not go uneaten
and that no one will eat their bounty but him.

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