Blackberries and You
“You and I could not have been simple married lovers. There are so many reasons I can’t count them.” -James Wright, “The Young Good Man”
I used to like blackberries, once,
when I was very young. At least
that’s what my mother says. Myself,
I don’t remember. My memory
doesn’t stretch that far. All that I remember
now is the pucker of my lips at the sour taste
of bursting pustules, the spitting out
of a half-chewed berry.
But I met a one-armed farmer
the other day who said the bramble patch
behind his tobacco field was filled with the sweetest,
largest blackberries that he’d ever seen.
I don’t know why, but I believed him.
The next night I dreamed of blackberries
under a heavy-hanging August moon and air
that pressed down on my skin, a humid weight
even at night. Picking handfuls of berries below moonlit clouds,
my hands looked streaked with blood.
When I woke, the warm and blue-red tang of them
still clung onto my tongue.
I can’t make up my mind
whether they tasted bitter or sweet.
You and I were never simple:
we were seven years of complicated. I suppose I counted
them to see if I could make some sense
of it. Of us.
Perhaps if I’d minded the wiser words
of my younger self, the one that said I’d never
go back to one love more than twice…well, then
I suppose this never would have happened,
the back and forth of us.
You and I never could have been
simple: I coddled you at first and then, years later,
not enough. You only came when it was easy,
wandering away when you found
another one of my new, sharp edges.
I wish that we could have been
effortless. I wanted to write you
this before we ended.
But the truth is that we’ve been done
for a long while now.
Welllllll…this is the latest! I’ve been churning out a lot of new/half-finished stuff lately, poetry and prose. I thought I was going to turn in a prose poem for this project I’m doing on James Wright (who I love even more than I love James Galvin), but then today all of this was rolling around in my head because of my undying fondness for “The Young Good Man” and I figured, why not do something similar? If you haven’t read it, you ought to! It’s beautiful, and I was definitely emulating it for this piece.
Now, this is still in its drafting stages, but I’d love any thoughtful critiques you can throw my way!