Monday, February 17, 2014

Blackberrying

On the long driveway to the school -
  blackberries flourish
  bursting through the undergrowth
  like octopus arms drooping with black, red and green fruit
  ready for a fight,

But at home-time the children pass by.
 In cars, or dragging bags
 earnestly exchanging views on
 superheroes or zombies, unicorns or pokemon
 oblivious to the challenge,
 contemptuous of the reward.

 On this yellow autumnal Saturday, I am alone.
  Grey head bent,
  working alone under the cool green leaves,
  pressing back the cane's defences
  reaching, curling my fingers, and plucking
  yes, plucking is the very word
  fruit from hiding places.

The challenge of finding berries
 the evasion of wicked barbs
 the quiet working of the vines
 as men and women did
 for thousands of years.

 I imagine company: naked cavemen and women gossiping softly on the cooling air
 the children learning to avoid the thorns
 an ear out for bears who would also be
 rewarded with the purple stains of juice
 on paws and mouths.

And I worry that my transaction with these plants,
this natural bargain (for plants are subtle and use us well)
today is foundering on a trade,
unnatural and perverted
where plants,
isolated in hydroponic sterility,
their thorns mutated, their berries swollen
produce flavourings selected by focus groups
of those children who never stopped
to taste a free berry as it grew.