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 This poem was written by Florence Nash, who stayed at La Digue in Saint-Chinian during September 2005, and assisted Nadia and Cyril with the wine harvest.

 

Vendange
Saint-Chinian 2005

 

Through a long day of stoop and sweat and crack-back crouch
we work down slow rows, dragging baskets, pickers paired
to either side of goblet-pruned and trellised vines.

We peer and paw, lifting the leaves to find the cloudy
green-gray shine of sauvignon, swollen and sweet
between the looping leafy vines, the shifting-shadowed

vines. We push the sharp snap-nasty clippers deep
to cut the cool palm-filling weight and drop of grapes
into our hands and pass them to the basket. From time

to time I straighten, sweep my sweat-stung eyes along
the vineyard-ringing hills, the lift of distant limestone
cliffs, then squat to squint again into the flutter-

shadow leaf-on-leafy green and yellow shining.
Stumbling from the fierce mud-suck on shoes, I stagger,
flail, the scissor blade nicks deep, and sudden blood

runs rude onto the piled picked grapes that wait
for porteurs roaming the rows, backs burdened with their crates.
At noon we leave our shears and baskets on the ground

and crowd onto the loaded grape truck into town,
to rest and eat at shaded tables by the river,
cheese and bread and nectarines, new-bottled red,

while in the dim cement-floored cave the old pressoir
squeezes grapes and stems and juice and blood-mine-
into gathering pans and holding tanks, and all the while

my opened hand drips red. As sweat cools on my aching
back and legs and arms and head, I smile to think
that from my own sore, stinging hands comes wine

 

 
   

 


© Andreas Wagner 2006