Wild Blackberries

We dressed for December then,
When the heat crawled on our skin:
Not an inch open to the thorns
Except our mouths, necessary to tongue
The berries from our bruised fingers.
My father put socks on our hands
And with old strong hat pulled to his ears
He led us into the thickest thorns.
That bright July heart above us
Beat its anguish to our heavy bones.
Our juices fermented from the pores
Became blood with the berries’ smears.
Yet we plucked the fruit lightly;
Stifled in our protection while
Thorns clawed at our hair
But fell away. Gladly the hot berries,
July berries, melted our quick tongues.
There were creatures at odds with us.
Chiggers so sly and small
The pungent oil filtered none away.
If there were a way to revoke them
My father would have known it.
Even fat ticks are known
To bury in the picker’s skin:
Our harehound pup came home
Dalmatianed with the black bulbs.
Also the yellow-banded bees,
The ones that bumble into your legs,
Attack your sneakered feet,
Defied our protection.
Those bees nest near the briars,
Under the lame grass we trampled,
Are easily shaken to erupt
From the earth in lava bubbles.
And so run then, run home
To the scrubbed kitchen; wash
The green spiders from the harvest;
Husk your hot bodies;
Shower away the afternoon;
And in white dress and shirt
Taste the blackberry, absorbed
Summer in fragrant cream, black suns
Dancing in the white, white summer sky.