These days, I see a lot of people who would be doing themselves a big favor if they would just slow down. Life is too short for us to be wrestling with hamburgers at the stop lights of busy intersections, or to be shaving as we sail down the road, or � and I have actually seen this happen � to be brushing our teeth in traffic. Not only is this kind of behavior unsafe, it is ungraceful and undignified.

One hot autumn day nearly thirty years ago, I helped my wife�s brother and their father finish bringing in the raisin crop on their family�s farm. While my father-in-law drove the tractor up and down the vineyard rows, Mark and I choked on the dust and picked up countless rolls of raisins and stacked them on the trailer. We kept up a steady pace. By lunch time, I could see the end was in sight, and that, if we had a quick bite to eat and got back out there, we could have everything done by about four in the afternoon. This thought was appealing, because from four to six o�clock was typically the hottest part of the day.

When we went in to eat, however, I discovered that my dear mother-in-law had made us a huge meal. So, we ate. And ate. And when we were finished eating, instead of resting for five or ten minutes and going back to work, we sat down and watched my father-in-law sleep on the couch � for an hour and a half. All the while, through their west-facing window, I could see the long rows of raisins waiting to be picked up. As the temperature increased, the atmosphere over the vineyard contracted and expanded just as if the world were on fire.

Finally, our tractor driver snorted and sat up. A few minutes later, still encumbered by an enormous lunch, we hobbled back out to the field. After suffering for roughly half an hour, Mark and I managed to reestablish our old rhythm. At four-thirty, we pulled into the yard with the last load of raisins. The trailer was sagging. All we had left to do was dump the raisins out of each and every paper roll into big wooden boxes, stack the boxes, and burn the empty trays.

We were about to start in when my father-in-law went into the house and came back out with a big smile and several bottles of beer. We drank beer, talked, and rested in the shade of their big pine tree for about an hour. The work waited. The temperature continued to rise.

We finally finished the job at about seven in the evening. We were tired, sweaty, and caked with dirt, but happy. Most important, thanks to a man who hadn�t forgotten how to live, we had banished the illusion of lost time and gotten to know each other better.

Only a couple of years later, he was gone. But see how he is remembered. And see what was learned that day, and what a help it would be to us all if we didn�t drive ourselves as hard as we do. Because the time we think we are saving is not being saved at all. It is being murdered, moment by moment, never to be seen or tasted again.

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

Main Page
Author�s Note
A Listening Thing
Among the Living
No Time to Cut My Hair
One Hand Clapping
Songs and Letters
Collected Poems
Early Short Stories
Armenian Translations
Cosmopsis Print Editions
News and Reviews
Highly Recommended
Let�s Eat
Favorite Books & Authors
Useless Information
Flippantly Answered Questions
E-mail & Parting Thoughts

Top of Page
Old Notes
Current Entry