Neighbors across the street
have grapefruit, we have
oranges; this month we meet

halfway to begin the swap,
one color for another,
of our respective crops.

Some celebrate with liquor;
we repair to the garage,
bring down the dusty picker

and circle our laden tree.
Its lower limbs the girls
will glean—for Susan and me

it’s the tree’s upper reaches
that challenge. Threading
a way through the branches

to capture the highest globe
is to contain the sun
in a basket. Our fondest hope:

to catch down all the fruit
before the citrus rats
out-harvest us. It suits us,

my neighbor and me, to wage
this winter contest.
The shape of the picker cage

mimics a handshake; all year
the barter confirms:
good friends, good will, good cheer.

—Robley Wilson

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 19 Number 1, on page 34
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https://newcriterion.com/issues/2000/9/december-in-florida