Saturday, July 31, 2010

On Blackberries

Blackberries are a difficult fruit.

Ripening in the heavy heat of July,

Their juicy blackness softly glows in the sun.

Clusters of fruit hang just out of reach

And beckon you to stretch far into the thicket.

Their recurved thorns allow you to slip in,

But snag and tear on the way back out,

As though the canes demand a sacrifice of blood

Before they are done with you.

Swarms of gnats cloud around my head

While mosquitoes whine in my ears.

I am careful to note the poison ivy

That thrives in the shade of the canes.

Ants bite and sting as they guard prized berries,

While June bugs buzz harshly to defend their own.

Everyone wants some.

A half hour of picking yields two cups of berries,

Enough for a small cobbler after dinner.

Warm from the oven, it melts vanilla ice cream

Until small puddles streaked with purple pool over the crust.

Spoon halfway to mouth, I pause and consider

The labor required to gather this summer treat.

The scratches and bites will sting under hot water and soap while I shower tonight,

But the memory of the sweet heavy blackness will remain on my tongue.

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