Monday, August 04, 2008

Y. Stephan Bulbulian: The Art of Pruning Vines

for Berge, who taught me this art

Under the morning ceiling of the tule fog,
Walk proudly in the vineyard of your father.
Know every grapevine personally;
From the very planting, watch them grow.

Understand the pecularities of each,
Which one of the rows grows vigorously,
What vines will produce a hearty crop.
Know the places where the soil is sandy.

Wear two hats as part of your uniform
In the vineyard. At the start, put one hat
On the end-post to mark the place you begin.
Pull down the other hat over your ears.

Take off your gloves early in the day,
To dry from the frost on the limbs and canes,
Hang one of your coats on the vineyard wire
When the sun comes out later in the day.

Gangling vine canes with slender stems
Seem more numerous than life’s misfortunes.
Keep your pruning shear sharply honed.
At harvest, every grape has a thousand wasps.

Near the road, at the head of the vineyard row,
Square off, standing in front of ancient vines.
Slash the overgrown brush wrapped on the wire.
Remove the old growth that yielded the crop.

Take the handle of the shear under your arm;
Hold the other end in the palm of your right hand.
Draw the limb to you, cut it, toss it to the ground,
In the mud, the dirt, the weeds that survive the cold.

Follow the vineyard row & the daydreams
That occur in the field while working, for here
Are the thoughts that lead to the art of pruning.
Wrap branches on the wire. Don’t let them hit you.

Hard work means long life & short days.
Make the sacrifice to cut the little spindly vines;
Slice the weak ends back to 2-1/2 feet long.
There is little choice: the shear is wealth.

As the day denies the promise of night,
“…. a hundred vines to cut before dark.”
Labor in vain is lost for good. Looking ahead
To the next crop is the art of pruning vines.

ARMENIAN TOWN: poetry by Paul Aloojian, James Baloian, Y. Stephan Bulbulian, Ronald Dzerigian, Michael Krekorian, Brenda Najimian-Magarity. Foreword by Dickran Kouymjian, copyright 2001 by the William Saroyan Society

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