10TH ANNIVERSARY


Ten years ago, after the first night
we spent together,
we went to pick strawberries
knee-deep in furrows of scalloped leaves,
white flowers winking like stars.
It's still early morning,
but we're drunk on the winy air
and the headiness of our desire.
As we kissed more than we picked,
our mouths brushed like petals
rubbing in the wind,
our crimson fingers strayed
beyond the boundaries of clothing.
Stitch us in that tapestry forever,
baskets full of berries, and always in love . . . .
But we had to go home,
turn the fresh fruit into preserves:
hull and cull the berries, crush them
with lemon, boil until thick
and sweet with yearning and sun.
Sealed in wax, each jar's stained glass,
full of the light.
And when we spread this redness
on morning toast, sparks
rekindle and glow.

And now it's ten years later.
Strawberry picking's an annual
task I do alone, or with a friend.
I boil the jam down to the clatter
of children underfoot.
And our eyes meet over curly heads
and our hands brush like green leaves in the wind . . . .
And the jam shines in its cathedral of wax,
the sweetness of early June
poured in glass jars.
On January mornings,
when love & light are memories,
these red suns
light our cellar shelf.
Barbara Crooker
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