Berry Picking

by Larry Chamberlin   May 22, 2011


"Are these really blackberries?"
"Ones covering the ground,
we used to call dewberries,
those on stalks, blackberries;
don't really know for certain."
Jessica shrugs: they taste the same.

To the East - a small airport
to the West - a subdivision;
this area was abandoned long ago
and grew rough again with
thirty-year fire ant hills
grown to monstrous nests.

Mounds are garbed in thorny shrubs
filled with berries - mostly unripe
luscious red teasers that promise
"next week, we'll have a great time"
but many more are ready
to fill several pints between us.

We work down opposite sides,
she chooses, I take the other.
Slivers prick harder than fifty year
memories, and there were no
fire ants when I grew up, still
the fruit is accepted with bliss.

'Back when' we used sulfur - my brothers,
now bug repellent pumps from a plastic can;
picking's still the same: watching for snakes,
scaring field mice back to their holes
dug into the mounds despite the ants;
this cohabitation seems to work.

Step like a dancing ninja into bare patches
to avoid briars yet not trample the berries:
lift leg high, turn on heel, set it down
three feet away, shin still gets scraped!
Jessica delicately paces along the hillock
as in a dance routine well practiced.

Used to be two for the bucket, one for me;
now, it's most for the bucket, eat a few,
mainly ones that don't look pie-good.
My mouth is purple, hands stained, too.
Jessica turns and grins purple teeth -
such a sweet fire these ants give us today.

4


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Latest Comments

  • 5 months ago

    by Milly Hayward

    Larry what wonderful memories this poem evokes. As a child we spent many hours gathering BlackBerry and taking them home for mum to make BlackBerry jam.

  • 8 months ago

    by Hellon

    Just came across this little cracker today and loved it. You set the scene perfectly.I almost felt I was there with you both! Loved the reference to the dance pattern...it made me giggle as I imagined you trying to avoid the brambles while trying not to crush the berries. Excellent write and I'm glad I finally stumbled on it!

  • 6 years ago

    by Rania Moallem

    Attached to the piece and the characters...I loved the title actually again lol, maybe cause i love fruits or because u know how to get the attention of your readers.

    I love this stanza :

    Step like a dancing ninja into bare patches
    to avoid briars yet not trample the berries:
    ^ verryyyy flowing!

    lift leg high, turn on heel, set it down
    three feet away, shin still gets scraped!
    Jessica delicately paces along the hillock
    as in a dance routine well practiced.

    ^ just like the rest of the poem, it sounded exciting and thrilling (in a calm way)
    reminds me of a spring field YET summer time..if u know wat i mean

    I enjoyed this a lot, ans sorry the comment got cut :)

    5/5

  • 6 years ago

    by Rania Moallem

    LOL my god you know why am smilling, I felt like being in a field..or just be a part of this amazing "scenario" if you allow me to call it that because it makes one very

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