"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.
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!