Tin Pail

I submerge the old tin pail
beneath the flowing stream,
I watch the icy water
spilling over the bottom lip
filling the hollow space.

I straighten up
muscles taut
as my fingers curl around
the wire handle.

I carefully carry the pail.
I don’t want to drop its precious contents.
I look to the sun-baked fields.

I see the workers scattered
here and there,
bodies rising from the plain.
They’ve been out in the heat so long
sweat no longer appears at their brow.

I carry the pail for these people,
the parched and dry
who long to be quenched.

Yet some succumb to sun-stroke,
delirious clouds obstructing reason.
I dip the ladle into the silvery liquid
and offer a drink
yet they refuse.
One rasps, “No thanks. I’ll get my own water.”
Another knocks the bucket from my hand,
“What are you trying to do? Poison me?”

I return again to the river.
I rinse off the bucket
fresh dents evident.
I pause
long enough to lower my mouth
to the cool stream,

I dip the bucket again
and once more
carry the bucket to the harvest.

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