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Picking Blackberries

What will you give for a taste
of summer’s last sweetness?
This jewelled crown of thorns
rings every path and highway;

No use pretending you
have not heard sweet temptation
chatter through the vines-
taste    eat

Put your hand in the thorns
and come out dripping juice,
king’s purple spread from
hand to tongue.

Reach gently,
or you will find your thumb
full of thorns, and your pail
filled with unbearable tartness.

Reach gently, but reach.
The sweetest berries hide
toward the inside, hidden
beneath leaves barbed like critics.

Balance, if you must, precariously,
held by will and longing from
the net of thorns. If you want
the ripest fruit, relinquish safety.

Guard yourself only with these words:
Peril    abundance
whispered like a prayer
through purple lips.

-Lynn Ungar, from Blessing the Bread

When we were up on Vancouver Island we stayed at this lovely cabin on the property of a family. While showing us around, their adorable little girl Janie accompanied us.  At one point she pointed over to some growth along the edge of the forest and said “If you need to pick huckleberries, they’re over there.”  I loved her choice of the word “need,” not “want.”   Lynn Ungar asks “What will you give for a taste/ of summer’s last sweetness?”  Do you need to go pick some berries?  Do you long to taste and eat the juiciness of summer?  As we enter summer’s waning days of August, how might you “relinquish safety” and reach gingerly through the brambles to grasp hold of the sweetest berries waiting to stain your fingers with their glorious color?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

(photo taken on Vancouver Island by the Koksilah River)

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5 Responses

  1. Thank for sharing that sweet story Suz, and many prayers for everyone touched by this terrible tragedy.

    Thanks lucy! I had fun using Photoshop on this photo to get the purple effect magnified.

    Blessings — Christine

  2. “The sweetest berries hide
    toward the inside, hidden
    beneath leaves barbed like critics.”


    “If you want
    the ripest fruit, relinquish safety.”

    lucious poem indeed! it is so multi-layered because i can see the blackberry bushes and also feel the depth of life in the words. these two lines really spoke to me and reminded me of my recent posts re: comfort…”if you want the ripest fruit, relinquish safety!”

    also, your photography is absolutely stunning!

  3. Luscious poem!!!

    Your tale reminded me of my neice taking a necklace of her moms at about three and telling her, “I NEED it.” She lived in a house os older mom and teen girl. Luckily Miggs understood and supplied her with some suitable jewels.

    It has been sad here in Minneapolis with the bridge only two miles away. Our next door neighbor just lost a coworker. More to come, I am sure.

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