Looking For Blackberries

Last weekend Jeanie and I were in Virginia with our friends Anne and David Grizzle, at the Bellfry retreat which Anne has built on her old family farm. She and I went to walk while Jeanie and David went to the farmer’s market. And here is a poem that came from that walk. Leighton

LOOKING FOR BLACKBERRIES

At Broadview Ranch Saturday
we went hunting for blackberries – well,
black raspberries actually – past
a ragged garden plotted for a family tree
and the site with a view chosen
for a future chapel to rise from
the boards of an old barn,
beyond the Hermitage to a new orchard
where we watered a thin pear tree
and made our way through hip high grass
to a steep slope where the berries – the
delicious black raspberries –
were reported to be waiting for us.

They were, hundreds of them, peeking
through the bush and brambles. My tongue
was ready, already, tingling with the taste.
But they were not, not a single blackberry
ready for us, only tiny clusters of redheads.
We had come a week too soon.
The time was not ripe.

I did try one berry, one a bit darker,
just to sense what might have been,
and then we trudged back up the hill
thinking how often we get only a little
of what we want so badly we
can almost taste it.

My path was interrupted then by
a gathering of daisies,
sunny faces smiling up at me,
and I realized the time was ripe, time to be
grateful for what was already in bloom.

We walked on by a high path cut through the woods
to a tall pine designated as “the prayer tree.”
Tied onto each stubby branch was a yellow ribbon,
inviting us to write our own prayers.
I took a marker and wrote my request:
”Ripe blackberries, for Benji, my grandson,
and for us.”

Leighton Ford,

July 13, 2009

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