Susan Stires

Hanging with the dried pods of lupines
this year’s tight blackberries
show their seeds
in the parched days of August,
So unlike the ones fifteen years ago
that held all the moisture of summer,

That day we armed ourselves with pails
and crossed fields heavy with dew
to reach the bramble patch
behind the ell of a house
abandoned, but filled with stories,

Clad in yellow slickers we enter
the profusion of thorn and thicket
and push back the canes
with our arms to claim
the glittering fruit as our own,

Though our touches are tender
the berries bleed—
first our fingers are inked and then
our teeth and tongues as
we fill our pails greedily with these
aggregates of seeds and juices,

and laugh at our success,
Your black braid swings
among the steaming blackberries
my hair, still long,
is caught by the canes as we exit
the maze we created,

In a short time we will wash the fruit
and tend the jam and our children,
For now it is enough to be together
in the ancient ritual of gathering
and to feel a bond hold us
as tightly as the brambles.

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