Watermelon Truck Near Araby, Georgia

Seth Brady Tucker

The work of two hundred days is littered on the burning roadside
like broken skulls and seeping brains.  A single crop of watermelons

burst and leaking along the highway like hungry pulped mouths
open and gaping in the hundred degree sun.  My boy and I are unhurt;

a miraculous escape from a crushed rental semi.  There was no hint
of danger, no sign of trouble—only one single lovely melon tumbling

and breaking in my rearview mirror—a slow motion acrobat spinning
innards and seeds from a pin-wheeling fruit body.  Then our truck

was sideways and flipping with the same urgency, our bodies spastic
and loose in the cab like holiday popcorn on a cast-iron stove. 

The sound of tearing metal and busting gourds is the sound of a train
running over rabbits.  For a moment I mistake the wet and thin pink

blood running along the floorboards as my own, or worse, my young
son’s.  I reach for him and feel the cool sweet juice of my watermelon

crop upon his sun darkened skin.  For the moment, everything is all right. 
Behind us my wrecked crop stretches in hot agony--an entire summer

of work gone in five seconds, now a three hundred yard syrupy smear on I-75.
We wait for help for nearly thirty minutes.  White faces drive slowly by,

crushing the fruit of my labor beneath tires anointed with one tear
and a pound of sweat for each ripe melon destroyed. Their eyes see

only an accident on a highway, but it is more than that—this is the destruction
of a family and a name.  It is a bloodline running its course, a year’s wages

wasted to a blazing highway.  We are lost, surrounded here by dark forest
and bright asphalt which, given the power of speech, still wouldn’t utter

any kind word.  This is a tale of blood, thin and watery and pulled from
a thousand empty generations.  My father would tell me that these are loses

only faith can redeem, and I stand with my empty hands tucked hard
into my trousers, forsaken, and watch my beautiful son begin to skip rope

over the fleshy rinds with a length of frayed baling string. 
Like he doesn’t have a care in the whole wide world.

(River Styx)