Berry Picking by Will Reger

These are the woods
Where my mother played,
Her playhouse €”an outline of
Stones on the ground.
Beside the creek
Her father gardened,  
But the water rose
And spread his seeds  
Among the trees.
Summer was the time
For berry picking.
We each took a bucket,
Walked into the woods
And filled it with berries.
The aunts said, “Don’t pick
The unripe berries,
The rosy green ones,
The color of dawn:
Pick the ripe ones,
Black as hell,
Full of the sun
And ready to explode.”
At the edge of the woods
A castle of canes,
Curving thorns
As sharp as shark’s teeth
Kept us out,
But Grandma’s dog,
An arthritic hound,
His black coat sleek
And hot from the sun
Bayed at some creature and
Shambled after it
Into the thicket.
Above, two eagles
Breasted the wind
Like knives at the ready,
Their scything shadows
Swept across us.
All of this happened,
Nothing remarkable:
But memory sanctifies
Lost moments like this,  
This day of picking
Berries, this day
Of eating fat berries
Till the juice fills our veins.

Will Reger has contributed several poems to WIZ. You can find his bio here.

Photo by Lewis Collard via Wikimedia Commons.


4 thoughts on “Berry Picking by Will Reger”

  1. I like how Will takes us into and back out of the consciousness of a child. From “a castle of canes” to “Swept across us” is lexically sophisticated but evocative of just the kinds of impressions of things children get: they see, more imaginatively and intensely than we do, things in things.

    Very Bradbury, and a nice addition to the “berry picking” genre in poetry.

    Thanks for playing here this week, Will!


  2. Love this. It reminds of Virginia summers minus eagles but snarled with blackberry thorns pricking fingers and fruit still warm from standing in the sun bursting in the mouth.

    Childhood in rural regions is golden, filled with magic like this. And broken bones. And nail punctures in the feet. And dodging copperheads, scary dogs, and unnameable dangers lurking above and below the growing consciousness of the world.


  3. Loved that line, the black ones full of hell. One thing I wondered, why did you split your lines? Love the images. I feel the pain and the sweet joy of my own childhood blackberry days.


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