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.