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.

Goodbye, White

Labor Day is here, banishing white pants to the back of the closet for another season.  Well, I don’t own any white pants, ’cause my bottom half just doesn’t need that level of attention, so instead I’m writing about other white things that have come and gone.

Goodbye white lace on the baby pillow my mom stitched for me.  I loved you until you were dirty tatters framing the yellow gingham,  Come to think of it, goodbye white stuffing that filled the pillow and in the end came out in puffy lumps through the hole where I loved that pillow too thin.

Goodbye white stephanotis corsage that I wore to a junior prom.  You were so much more beautiful than the red roses all the other girls wore.  Good riddance to the boy that gave me that corsage and didn’t ever talk to me again because I wouldn’t smoke a joint and sleep with him.  Wait, not even good riddance to him.  Just riddance.

Goodbye Saturday morning sweetmilks with mounds of snowy powdered sugar spooned in the middle.  This isn’t so much a goodbye as it is a “See you later on a lazy winter morning.”  I will wipe powdered sugar from my lips and remember wiping my mouth on the corner of Grandpa’s “Kiss Me, I’m Norweigan” apron.

Goodbye white seashells washing ashore in the shadows of the pier.  I keep you in a jam jar on my night stand, remembering the day I last kissed my grandmother.  I can’t wait to walk barefoot in the sand and gather more shells for my jar.

Goodbye white wedding dress, all boxed up on the top shelf in my closet.  I take you down every now and then and blow the dust off the front of the box.  You made me feel like a princess on our wedding day.  You were spotless and new and so was I.  One day I will work up the nerve to free you from your box and wear you around the house.  Until then, wait for me with your satiny train all tucked in.

Goodbye blackberry blossoms, bursting white among the thorns.  It’s time for you to rest, time to pull fall’s burgundy blanket up to your chin as the earth breathes a sigh of relief.  It’s Labor Day and the laboring is done.  For now.