UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LINKS
From: originally published in The Fiddlehead #180, Summer 1994;
republished in Breathing Fire: Canada's New Poets, Harbour Publishing, November 1995;
also appeared on BC public transit as part of the Poetry in Transit project
Many Have Written Poems About Blackberries
But few have gotten at the multiplicity of them, how each berry
composes itself of many dark notes, spherical,
swollen, fragile as a world. A blackberry is the colour of a painful
bruise on the upper arm, some internal organ
as yet unnamed. It is shaped to fit
the tip of the tongue, to be a thimble, or a dunce cap
for a small mouse. Sometimes it is home to a secret green worm
seeking safety and the power of surprise. Sometimes it plunks
into a river and takes on water.
Fishes nibble it.
The bushes themselves ramble like a grandmother's sentences,
giving birth to their own sharpness.
Picking blackberries must be a tactful conversation
of gloved hands. Otherwise your fingers will bleed
the berries' purple tongue; otherwise the thorns
will pierce your own blank skin. Best to be on the safe side,
the outside of the bush. Inside might lurk
nests of yellowjackets; rabid bats; other,
larger hands on the same search.
The flavour is its own reward, like kissing the whole world
at once, rivers, willows, bugs and all, until your swollen
lips tingle. It's like waking up
to discover the language you used to speak
is gibberish, and you have never really
loved. But this does not matter because you have
married this fruit, mellifluous, brutal, and ripe.
Stephanie Bolster's works copyright © to the author.