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blackberry picking

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.

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