Sunday, July 05, 2015

Wild Berries


      As a child I’d walk with Nana and Grampop
on the trails behind the cabin.
In the heat of summer
we’d find the bushes
laden with tart wild berries.
We collected them as we walked,
one for the basket,
one, two for my mouth.
Dappled sunlight fell on our faces and hands
as Nana exhorted me to restraint
during the harvest,
“We have sugar and cream
back in the cabin.”

As a child I’d watch Mom-mom
stir the boiling elderberries
Pop-pop had gathered for jam.
I watched him squeeze the cooled berries 
through the cheesecloth,
the purple-black juice tracing
the veins on his forearms.
I once asked to have some berries
before they went in the pot,
“No, girl. They’ll give you a bellyache.
They need the heat.”

As a woman I moved to the woods
with my husband and children.
I remembered the wild berries,
searched my property
and found none.
I called the berries in the wilderness.
They did not answer.

There were sour years,
Years of pain and quarrel,
Years of heat and squeezing,
Years when I so desperately wished
I could speak with my grandparents,
the men and women who
had survived Depression and War
and broken promises.
I wanted
to sit at their feet and ask,
“Where is the sweetness?”

In want of quiet and healing
I returned to the wooded paths,
inhaled the piney air,
let the brook water wash my toes,
dried my feet on the moss,
listened to the birdsong,
warmed my face in the leaf-filtered sunlight.
When my heart was at rest
the berries were waiting for me.
They whispered,
“We have come.
We are here,
wild
and free.”



10 comments:

Tabor said...

I hope this is similar to a poem that my grandson might write someday.

Stephen Hayes said...

Love this connection with nature.

Craig said...

Really nice. Thank you.

Bijoux said...

I went blueberry picking last week. There is something quite healing and memory-evoking in berry picking. I think your poem is perfect.

Beach Bum said...

Nicely done! I feel the same way about the ocean.

Suldog said...

Very nice. Nothing quite like discovering some wild berries. Even in the city, we'd occasionally come upon some when we were kids. I particularly recall with fondness finding both raspberries and blackberries growing in a trash-strewn vacant lot behind a liquor store in Dorchester, our Boston neighborhood. Delicious, and certainly better for us than the candy with which we usually filled our maws.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

Three days since I first read the post.
I'm at a loss for compliments.
About all I can say is I really like it.

Kat said...

Oh that is beautiful. :)

Secret Agent Woman said...

Oh, that's lovely. Perfect metaphor.

Jocelyn said...

This is fantastic. It tells your story so well, my friend.