I am completely over the moon for Poetry Everywhere. Oh, I’ve mentioned that before? Like 100 times? Well, make this 101 because Seamus Heaney’s poem “Blackberry Picking” has swept me back to my childhood, picking blackberries with my family. His beautiful imagery inspired me to write my own poem about blackberries. It’s for my big brother, Jeff, perhaps the only person in the world who loves blackberries more than I do.
Our family car is the color of overcooked green beans.
We pile in the backseat and drive to the river,
Always the river,
To relieve the heat that leaves us cracked and withered.
We don’t care about sweat beading on our brows or our legs sticking to the seats.
My brother and I hope for blackberries,
Buckets of blackberries,
Ripe with the sweet taste of summer.
We grab our empty buckets, peel ourselves out of the car and race to the brambles.
We reach into the bushes, cajoling the stems to surrender their jewels,
The jewels of summer,
Treasures between our teeth, tender on our tongues.
The tangles of thorns scratch at our browned arms and legs,
We bleed, my brother and I.
The blackberries bleed with us,
In our hands, in our buckets, blackberry wine trickling down our lips.
Our stained mouths bellow purple shouts of jubilee,
Our voices carry beyond the thicket, beyond the river
Our giggles echo on the water,
The mighty river, always laughing with us.
Our buckets are full, our bellies round jars of jam
Our cheeks blush with kisses from the sun,
The sun that rises,
To ripen blackberries for her children.
We pile into the car, our skin salty and sticky sweet.
The car is heavy with summer heat, cooking us until we wilt.
My brother and I exchange tired smiles, cradling our buckets,
Buckets brimming with blackberries, buckets brimming with joy.
And because you deserve a little more poetry in your life, here’s a video of Seamus Heaney’s “Picking Blackberries”. See how I put mine first so you won’t compare the two? Clever, no? Anyway, here is the poem that inspired me. There just aren’t many things better than poetry, blackberries, and the music of James Morrison.