U PICK

Hot July morning, sun a burner left on high. Raspberries,
beveled treasures; sour pie cherries, ruby globes, filling
the cardboard picking box. I’m by myself, listening
to the chatter of my neighbors in adjoining rows. Some
of us are up on ladders; some are down in the brambles
and briars. We all think we’re in high heaven, after
the long winter, late cold spring. If this were a protest march, would a few be be carrying opposite signs,
shouting invectives? Maybe so, but we’re here in this small orchard, sharing recipes, tips on preserves, how
to make a good pie. We cradle our baskets as if they contain unruly jewels. And then we go our separate ways, licked by the thick tongue of the sun, to bring some sweetness to our families, blinking our blind eyes
in the multilingual light.

~Barbara Crooker

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