Blackberries and You (final)

Blackberries and You
“You and I could not have been simply married lovers. There are so many reasons I can’t count them.” -James Wright, “The Young Good Man”

I.

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 back quite that far.
All that I remember now is childish,
puckered 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.

II.

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. I swung over a splintery, split-rail fence
and the jagged wood scratched sharply
at my skin. Picking mouthfuls 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.

III.

You and I were never simple:
we were seven years of complicated. I counted
them to see if I could make some sense
of it. Of us.

I couldn’t.
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 said that you stopped trying
to figure us out. I didn’t.
I coddled you at first and then, years later,
not enough. I came when you called. You only came
when it was easy, wandering away when you found another
one of my new, sharp edges. You were bitter
when you found I was no longer quite as sweet.
I wish that we could have been simple.

I wanted to write you
this before we ended.
But the truth is that we’ve been done
for a long while now.

Revisions are a beast.

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