It’s ginning time again. When the seed is removed from the fluff

and the fine particles from chutes and conveyors rise and remain

in the atmosphere. Fibers suspended in orbit dim the lights

of tractors, combines, and module trucks that flash in the dark

along calcite paths and county roads to highway 180, where shift

crews in big metal buildings sleep on cots in the back room to save

money on gas. Even the office ladies pound out trucker logs and time

cards and cost reports and payroll checks ninety hours a week so men

who flop in motels and fifth wheels can follow the harvest, up from

the Rio across the South, and get cash. Three or four or five

thousand dollars stashed into secret compartments in their jackets.

Rolls of hundreds, taped tight, will pay their bills, until next year,

when the part-time teller girls, who come in after school, become

full-time teller girls who put in extra time on Saturdays to keep

the lines moving so the farmers, foremen, and hands can get back

to the fields where every single hour of every single day they strip

and pack and load and haul mountains of cotton that is not white,

but dingy. Gray, like diesel exhaust or the sky, ginned at night,

or the dust upon dust upon dust swept from every corner and crack.