Sunday, August 10, 2008

Poem: Picking Blackberries in Murray Creek

Picking the blackberries that grow along Murray Creek, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, where my mom lives, is a summer ritual. This morning Diane and I got up early to carry out this ritual.

Cool morning to a late summer day;
we put our pails down,
walk the labyrinth first.

This labyrinth has a bridge:
we return there, descending
from the rough planks to the dry creek bed.

It’s another drought year in California;
so the dry creekbed is our road
through the kingdom of blackberries.

Blackberry bushes, thinner than usual,
climb the stream banks above us,
sink roots deep, searching for water.

Where they find that water,
the berries grow full and sweet,
and come away easily in our fingers.

Mostly, though, there is not enough water,
and the berries are small, gritty, dry,
disappoint fingers by not letting go.

We follow the dry watercourse way;
The deer have been here before,
eaten the low-hanging berries.

We work our way upstream,
seeking secret meccas of berries,
pilgrims to populate our buckets.

Time passes: ducking under branches,
scrambling up banks, repeatedly dodging
sleeping beauty brambles.

Untangling ourselves from the brambles,
our purple fingers, when lucky, free
two or three berries at a time.

Where water filled banks at other times,
now mint thrusts upward from sandy bottom,
crushed by feet, the rich wet scent arises.

Sun climbs sky; berries rise in buckets.
Finally, we and the berries give out;
but there will be blackberry cobbler tonight.

-9 August 2008

No comments: