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 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.
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.
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.
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.