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May 23, 2008 / calebdresser

Playing at reality

Fresh-cut rice is dry to the touch. The sickles are rusty, the serrations sharp. Quick motion: grab two plants, single cut, pile. Repeat. Repeat repeat repeat repeat, sweat soaks the wooden handle and dust sticks to my skin. Paddy soil soft, gently resisting my weight. Sunlight hard, furnace blast in my face. Faces, smiles, laughter at first and then grudging respect for the simplicity of heat. Yesterday mud, today dust – muddy water a pleasure in the distant past. Piling, weighing, piling again. Muttered formulas from sun-drenched brains. Threshing. Roar of engines next to the hand-threshing board. Hands full. Up. Down. Slap! Roll and repeat. Repeat repeat repeat repeat. New bundle. Same thing. Rattle of life falling into a sack. Grain after grain after grain after grain. Squatting in shade, sifting chaff. No breeze to cool me, chaff still filters out. Each one matters. Mountains in the distance. Pretty. Nobody cares. Professional faces bumpy as toads, beads of sweat protuberant in unaccustomed heat. Gone in two hours, cool drinks in filtered air, fine meal at someone else’s expense. Honest learning. Honest labor?Rice harvest



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  1. Emily Epstein / May 25 2008 12:44 am

    hey caleb,
    im really enjoying your posts… i’ve been thinking lately of joining the peace corps after i graduate, and although what you are doing is far off from what i would probably end up doing, it’s nice to hear a friend’s perspective on international work. oh, and please include some nude pics of you covered in mud, for the ladies back home. just a thought.

  2. Becky / May 27 2008 3:41 am

    Pretty mountains- I’m glad you see them and appreciate their beauty.

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