Berry Picking

by Marne Wilson

 

You and I went looking last summer for raspberries

and, finding none, were forced to admit

that we have no idea what the bushes look like.

I don’t know your excuse,

but I never needed to look for raspberries before.

I always had them pressed upon me.

Uncle Eilert dropped them every summer afternoon

into his plastic ice cream pail,

not stopping until it was full to the brim.

All except the top layer would be crushed.

My mother said they were perfect

for spooning on angel food cake,

but I wished for perfect raspberries,

ones that hadn’t been ruined by the weight of ambition.

Although today is cold and blustery,

I have beside me some raspberries from Mexico,

whole and complete in their gleaming plastic box,

for they traveled that distance in one single layer.

I want to say their perfection makes them better,

but in fact they fail to engage my attention.

No matter how much I chew them,

they refuse to taste like raspberries should.

It was the pressure, I finally realize,

that released all the flavor of my uncle’s berries.

Too much perfection is beautiful

but may not be worth biting into.

It is the messy things that are full of life and flavor.

Marne Wilson lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

She is the author of two chapbooks: The Bovine Daycare Center (Finishing Line, 2015) and As Lovers Always Do (forthcoming from Etchings Press).

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