Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 1, March 2011

Cherie Hunter Day
Cupertino, California, USA


Buttonwillow, California (1953)

migrant workers
bent over in the field—
smaller in the viewfinder

In this snapshot a farm worker in denim overalls is taking a break from picking cotton. His weathered face is partially shaded by his hat brim while he is busy rolling a cigarette. He has already loaded the tobacco onto the papers and his thick fingers are poised ready to roll. He has just said something and it registers as a flicker of a smile but he's already refocused on the task at hand so he can enjoy his smoke.

Under his right elbow is a girl of maybe five or six. She leans against the collection sack buckled at his waist that hangs empty at his side. Her small hands are busy too fidgeting with clump of weed or the last boll she picked. She looks straight at the camera with a slight scowl. Her fiery eyes are dark and in such contrast to her blond hair that is so pale it almost matches the tufts of cotton in the field stretching behind her.

historic marker
in the heat of the valley
a single tree

The town of Buttonwillow in Kern County, California was named after a single tree. Historic marker #492 was dedicated on February 24, 1952.

The snapshot is a photograph by William R. Heick, SFMOMA






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