A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2009, vol 5 no 3

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Patricia Prime


The Pack House

steams in the saucepan
rattle of spoons

Up at five on a frosty morning, dressed in sweaters, trousers, fur boots, with regulation gloves, hat and apron; we are ready for work in the pack house at six.

There are three positions for workers: the grading table, packing or assembling boxes. The kiwi fruit thunders down from a trap door onto the grading table. Often misshapen fruit that resembled parts of the human anatomy is passed along to amuse the packers. As it is graded the fruit tumbles down the chutes: large for export, medium and small for the home market and damaged fruit for jam chutney or juicing.

Life on the packing line is the most interesting, as here one meets and talks with other people: students, retirees, youngsters on their overseas experience.

At midday a siren sounds and lunch is taken outside in the bright, cold air. We sit in groups on crates and benches, someone plays a mouth organ and others go for a walk along the lane and back.

on the clothesline
a row of white gloves
stiff with frost

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