Blackberry Picking in Kentucky

Blackberry Picking in Kentucky


Ashy legs dangled 

from my grandfather’s weather-beaten flatbed,

wooden boards blanched from too many seasons of tobacco, potatoes, and corn.


A harvest of cousins, aunts, and uncles piled on with all manner of rinsed bucket

as my grandfather slowly dragged us into the woods to find wild blackberry bushes.


It was the hard red berries that gave the bushes with bruise-colored clusters away.

We — sticky with sweat

warned to watch for thorns

and snakes — 

reached into the thicket to the promised obsidian clumps.


The flesh yielded beneath our fingertips as we 

plucked and plopped the bouncy fruit into


It wasn’t a race because there were so many berries among the thorns,

and for the children

Time meant nothing.

Our voices joined the birds and frogs as we

blew on and ate a few of the more irresistible drupelets

pressing the balls of the fruit to the roof of our mouths until they were

flooded with juice sweet and tart like memories.


When all the buckets were heavy laden with fruit,

we meandered home.

With fingers stained the color of sacrifice,

We offered the buckets to my grandmother

to be made into a plethora of dark and delicious things.

2 thoughts on “Blackberry Picking in Kentucky

  1. Such vivid imagery! The reader is right there with you! So many wonderful lines –
    a harvest of cousins….
    juices sweet and tart like memories
    fingers stained the color of sacrifice
    just to name a few.
    Really enjoyed this poem!

  2. One of my fav marathon poems so far –delicious! Your emjambments are so effective with duality and breath, and metaphoric language. I was there, picking berries, looking at my stained hands… the color of sacrifice. Love it! (Read if you want a suggestion: perhaps consider line 8 up from the bottom as pails.) Kudos!

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