She slams the car door and begins the walk across the gravel lot toward the building. The way is familiar, the steps repetitive…..this is a path she follows at least twice a day, five days a week.
Today becomes different. as she walks she looks up through the branches of the old oak trees that have lived here for decades. She looks at the blue sky, notices the purple morning glories climbing through the hedges. After crossing the street she glances to her left and her eyes light on a small bramble of……blackberries? Yes, blackberries. In the middle of the city, entwined in a bush of indiscriminate origin is a small blackberry bush. She stops and stares at the black and red fruit glistening in the morning sun. She reaches down and plucks a plump, juicy berry and pops it in her mouth. The tart sweetness spreads inside her mouth and she senses more than feels the warmth of the sun rays that nourished and ripened the berry. The berry that was waiting, for just this day and just this woman, as an offering of days long past.
Days when the woman was a girl who awoke on a summer morning, grabbed a bucket and ran barefoot across the road to the berry patch in the woods.
The leaves of the berry patch glisten as if dusted with fairy dust and the berries sparkle like jewels, perhaps garnets, in the morning dew. She stretches her hand and plucks the first berry and puts it in her mouth, the juice staining her pale fingers and lips…..the tart sweetness spreading over her tongue, bursting like a Jackson Pollock painting in her mouth.
Pick three, eat two. pick three, eat two. And one for the bucket. She thinks about the blackberry pie her mamma will bake and she smiles. The blackberry thorns grab at her fingers and small drops of blood mingle with the berry juice….she listens to the birds twittering in the tall pines above and the insects buzzing in endless circles all around her. A soldier-boy grasshopper springs from the brambles, larger than a grasshopper has a right to be, and she squeals in surprise. Eewww. That calls for a three berry bite.
time passes although it feels timeless in this spot, on this day. the sun has climbed higher in the sky and burned off the dew. small beads of sweat have formed above her lip….she licks the saltiness away and the sweat mingles with the tartness of the berries. she wipes the back of her neck and pulls her long hair up into a pony tail. her bare feet are covered in fine, red dust – the soles toughened by days spent outdoors.
Pick three, eat two. Slowly, very slowly, the bucket fills.
Finally, she rises from a squat and stretches. The bucket is full. she takes a short walk to the pond, sitting on a shady spot on the bank beneath the trees. For a time her mind wanders settling on nothing and everything….images flitting like lightening bugs on a summer’s evening. The surface of the pond is still and serene broken only by a snake wiggling across. She could sit here forever but reluctantly rises and begins the walk back to the house, the berries nestling in the bucket like tiny promises of good things to come.
Charlotte Hamrick is an amateur photographer and fledgling writer who is finally free to follow her bliss after years of the nine-to-five lifestyle. Zouxzoux is the online home for her original poetry which has also been published in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Dew On The Kudzu, St. Somewhere Literary Journal and other online literary magazines. In 2010 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her poem “Ten O’clock”. She lives in New Orleans with her husband, dogs and cats where she loves local live music, dancing in the streets and gorging on fresh Gulf seafood. She hopes to die there and be buried in a tomb that is lavishly ornamented with beer bottles and Mardi Gras beads.