I will miss the strawberries

by Becky Dennison Sakellariou

I will miss the strawberry picking
the bending, heat on our backs,
red-stained fingers, bending, ecstatic sweetness
on the tongue
bending, filling baskets.

And the fourth graders reading
The Declaration of Independence in the town square
We hold these truths

And then the raspberries, harder to pick
than the strawberries.
You have to really want them, Rosalie tells us,
soft, falling off their buds into your fingers,
the fuzz liquefying as soon as your lips touch them.

And the balloon festival, children open-mouthed,
the sun in their hair, on their heads, in their eyes,
holding someone’s hand tightly, wishing to fly,
such wonder, even desire, at blue and yellow flight,
sky and shapes.

The roast beef supper at church, the strawberry shortcake,
the fiddles and banjos around the newly painted gazebo —
salmon and turquoise with fish and birds around the inside walls —
(in case of rain inside the Vestry),
people spread on blankets, tablecloths, oh there is Joan,
 so glad she is here, and who is that
with her? Her son, Andrew? How tall he has become.

And then the blueberries. I would go like Sal did,
picking, bending, eating, clinking in buckets,
bells around our necks, maybe even a bear
and her cub, mountains of blue fruit
enough to bring home for breakfast, pies,
ice cream, even fistfuls whenever we open the refrigerator.

And the cupcake auction with the Hot Mustard  Bluegrass Band,
later, of course, a blueberry bash to plunge into, dark mystery
of cream, teeth, chin, throat, slightly sour from the heat,
going home slowly afterwards

where your breath waits,
the sudden pull against my neck,
my skin moving against your tongue.

Previously published in Smoky Quartz