The Berry Bush

Stoic, she relinquishes her treasures.

Fingers swish, palms purple with the richness

of the gift. She whispers soft

but I am occupied; berries bounce in a plastic

pail to the rhythm of songbirds.

 

The old-timers say

that the harvest is only heavy every

seven years. This is the one in seven-

fat orbs dazzle the eye

and my pail overflows quick,

tongue stained and smug.

 

I strip the branches easiest to reach, careful to

pry into intimate places, seek

her secrets with greedy grasp. I slow. Here, not all are

perfectly ripe. My fingers must pull with

respect, leave the immature for a later picking.

 

The pails are piling purple. Content, I

step back, prepare to sail home

with cargo hold brimming. I stretch,

look up. More. And more, and more hang. I hear it

indistinct, this lesson. On tiptoe, the blessings are harder to

harvest, require more of my complacency.

 

Patience prickles. Fingers falter, accidental purple showers

to the earth. Joints creak, muscles strain,

and here is the true miracle,  saved for last. Fullness scrapes the dirt

plump and glad. The  equation comes

clear, and I laugh aloud with the unexpected joy of it –

 

for when do blessings not hang in clusters,

ripe and ready to pick? And how is great glory not

gained with a stretch of stained hands toward heaven?

Which good and surprising delights

were not made the sweeter by bowing of the head

and bending of the knee?

 

I hear her now.

Her syllables ring loud in the silence.

And I, who teach for a living,

am schooled by the berry bush.

 

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The Dare

White

Budding bride,

Womb of earthen vessel,

Your grace and dignity distend

And dismantle my weak argument.

Breath of life come full circle,

Your audacity dares me

To dream.

When the saskatoon bushes are blooming, I know that good things are coming.  Almost every year, they run the gauntlet of a late-season frost before they can go on to greatness.  The ‘old-timers’ in this area say that once in seven years, the wild saskatoons produce well.  They have to escape frost and insects, and moisture conditions must be ‘just so’ for them to bear the best berries.  They have an incredibly rich and unique flavour.   Mmmmm…..