The land is lined with tea fields,
neat rows now harvested by machine.
My great-grandmother picked the plant
by hand when she lived here
one hundred years ago. She remembered it
as the best time in her life,
harvesting with the other young girls, all singing
together as they separated orange pekoe,
pekoe, broken leaf.
Perhaps this is why fields feel so good to me,
sacred even in summer heat.
When I take my basket to pick patty-pan squash
a song I’ve never learned rises in my throat,
its lyrics a language I do not know.
The squash’s scalloped edges
mimic the notes of the tune
she teaches me. I hear her
though we have never met. Her voice curls
around pole beans and corn stalks,
tomato vines and kale plants.
Everything is singing,
even the tea I buy and brew from
Chá Gorreana one hundred years later.
I rustle the package and listen to its notes.