"On My Knees at the Strawberry U-Pick"

Lynn Davies

Both hands part the leaves, steady plunk

of berries in the box.  Traffic’s breath from the highway

through the trees and the mother says sure you can

eat some.  I don’t know if gulls like berries.  Yes,

we’ll leave soon.  And a woman beginning to show

tells her friend I knew pretty soon this one

was okay.  I lie on my side to pick in comfort

and wonder how many miscarriages.

Then the adolescent girl complains of her back,

the straw, her neck, the heat, and her aunt replies we all

have hardships, you know.  The berries spill and the girl

scolds herself but the aunt says we’ll both

take the blame for that.  A toad hops onto my prickly,

straw-covered row.  I squat, I stand.  A man complains

about his wife, how she withholds money, how sick

she is with cancer, how he can’t go out with the boys

at night if she knows.  A pity she’s not dead yet he says

a real pity.  I carry my 19 pounds to the car

and wonder if she’ll find a way to take the money

with her.  A berry-stained boy stretched out in the sun

and straw says some day I’ll dedicate my life

to counting and his friend replies maybe

you’ll find a new number.  Is it a share

of godliness, carrying these lines with me

into sleep and the days ahead, loving it all,

the bits of straw, the rotting fruit, my red hands

washing and hulling berry after berry

into the night?  How the boys lay down

to ponder infinity, how the idea of fruit flies

spurs me on.  Above the fields, the new moon

rises, suggests the rest of its cratered self.

Source:  Davies, Lynn.  how the gods pour tea.  Icehouse Poetry, 2013. 

"On My Knees at the Strawberry U-Pick" was originally published in how the gods pour tea copyright © 2013 by Lynn Davies. Reprinted by permission of Goose Lane Editions.

Photo credit to anna076 via FreeImages.com: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/strawberry-1319563