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Delano 37 Page Dougherty Delano Dora at the Cannery, c. 1936 Jeannine, Prude and I are at the sorting table, wanting that break. Al, the beltman, smokes a Chesterfield against the wall, out of the foreman's view. Tomatoes from Wicomico roll under our gloved hands. Black curls sneak from Prucie's net. "Christ, it's hot," I say, "if I never have to see another crate from Fruitland, I'll be satisfied." "Honey," goes Jeannine, "you'll never be satisfied." "I guess you're right," I say. My dress, ironed sharp as white roses this morning, is stained. "Prucie," I say, "it's perfumed in tomatoes." "It ain't so bad, it's a company dress." "This damned company," I say, "it's my feet. It's my disposition." "I'm pinning on my union button after the break," says Jeannine. Prucie and I weigh the idea. "Nothing'll come of it," says Prucie and I say, "Oh Prucie, what do you know?" We sort the bruised tomatoes and push the good ones into the vat. Steam cruises back to us. When the clock grates quarter-of, we step off. Throwing down our gloves, we dig for a nickel and a smoke, grey spins that take us far from the splintering crates, the pulpy stains, the strain of standing, our lives packed into hours. I wonder, if Jeannine wears her little button, will the earth roll over? Tonight I'll snip the roses that tumble from Mrs. Tyler's fence. We smoke, we sip our sodas, 38 the minnesota review we ease away our time. Prucie has us laughing when she drags like Al, and blows a perfect circle rising at our bench. Delano 39 Page Dougherty Delano Ashby Leach Defense Committee The patch-up man, who weighted their eyes with slugs, he'd come back from Vietnam whole and lost, spent sour years writing letters. Up from Huntington, up the Chessie Tower to train his empty shotgun on office workers, now he insisted on the old railroad job, and more, wanted the company president's OK. Above the city's core of offices and department stores, fear jingled in the secretaries' bellies. That year, 1978, Ashby became our friend. This is what I'm thinking, rolling cookies, half hearing the TV, a Christmas movie about a Cleveland family. This is the central bus stop, where extras wait after the downtown shots. I'm trying to work the best shapes— a tree, Santa Claus, a gingerwoman with a skirt. We sneak broken hearts and ginger stars. Horses with wild manes are painted in gory powdered sugar dashes— pink, pale blue, the suggestion of violet. My strokes clobber the man's feet, I make the tree branches stubby and clumsy. "Pretend," I tell my boy and girl, "a demented cousin helped you ice them." But I have taught them to seek truth, even if the truth at times is a burden. The movie closes as the family sits on its front porch, bonded in radio, in like sweaters, adrift in 1940. After they've laughed at the Chinese waiters dropping l's like crumbs, we are expected to see that the family is the most enduring unit. I wonder those years what Linda, Ashby's wife, thoughtone baby wilful and walking, 40 the minnesota review the other born some months into his prison term. She left them with her mother-in-law each visit to Sandusky Prison, stoning her fears with silence. He wrote my husband and me that the other prisoners respected him. Ashby used to laugh how a leader of the Defense Committee kept his phone in the refrigerator during meetings, for security. "And they think I'm crazy," he'd say. But he hated jail, and grew silent: the letters stopped. The children have enjoyed the movie, especially when the boy licked a frozen pole and his tongue stuck all recess long. They laughed at the mother tasting soap the way she'd made her boy swallow it, as if all punishment can be comprehended. Then the kids and I go for a walk, leaving cookies cooling everywhere. We look at the silver buttons of river through...


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