By Poet Laureate Christopher Watkins

       Wet socks and all, we trudge the rows,
black umbrellas breaking backwards
like the battered wings of jackdaws
in the winter.

       It’s early Fall, the grapes
show signs of tartness still, but sugar’s
on the rise. We chew the berries, macerate
the skins between our purpling teeth,

       and test the seeds for tannins, before spitting
out the soft purple masses on the thin, green strips of grass
between the rows; on the ground, clusters dropped
last week spackle the grass like tiny browning skeletons.

      The canopies look weary,
it’s a long and draining battle they’re engaged in;
vine life is an exasperating one, the man who tends
you thinks its best that you struggle.

     Inside, I hang my socks over a barrel,
procure a corkscrew, open up an ’04 blend,
splash the rich, garnet liquid into glasses
for myself and my companion,

and toast the coming harvest.