Guest Poet Paula Grenside

Vintage at Russiz

Out of the farm on top of Russiz hill,
my uncle and I breathe the fragrance 
of morning air that sweeps
remains of sleep from eyes.
Enchanted by sunrise, I watch my earthly god,
his fair moustache curled up in smile,
his knotty finger pointing at the valley, 
where light still fights the darkness
in tangled greens of forests and vineyards. 

Walking along rows, 
amid wood stems and golden grapes
my uncle holds my hand,
performs his expertise. 
How he can pick beads,
roll them along his tongue,
cluck them, taste juice, anticipate the wine.
He tells me Chardonnay's the one in winged grapes,
and white Pinot is to be said without the -t-
My "O" and Ohhh", my uncle's chuckle
and pickers' laughter defeat tired cicadas
reciting summer poems.

When waves of green dance with shadows,
when sunset twists around bare vine-shoots
in the darkening throat of the valley, 
we walk uphill.
Last rays and protective hands on my shoulders.
Cricking carts, carrying jade cascades, track
the earth with the last sounds of vintage day.
My uncle looks at me; in sapphire splinters
among burned wrinkles I read such wisdom and love.
Sticky hand wrapped in his,
heart-glass brims.

July, 1999

Paula Grenside's Questions:

This is the 4th draft of "Vintage at Russiz" with a completely rewritten first stanza in plain language. I'd like to know what you think. I rewrote the poem trying to transfer the child's expectations and where she is.

The Albany Poetry Workshop