When I remember my mother happy
I go back to her emerging from brambles,
a loaded bucket keeping her from dancing.
How she’d get into it, thumbs and fingers
purpled from berries that also stained
the cutoff milk jug she carried. Handing me
a used ice cream tub, lugging their dark weight.
Some were sour, not ready for the trip.
But the big sweet ones in hot cobbler
with vanilla ice cream melting over an evening
at the bottom of summer. I'm getting ahead of her.
And her scratched shins and hands. Sweaty legs. Sneaking
over the old Battlefield where the best patches were
without competition. Picking half a day of illegal berries.
Dodging the park ranger, dropping in waist-high grass
when his truck would pass, lying belly-down on the stained
shirtfront she’d sometimes flipped up as a makeshift basket.