Two men in a prospect of berries & His absence
by Andy Brown
[ poetry - may 05 ]
Two men in a prospect of berries
The loganberries cropped in five year cycles
in their protected patch beside the yew
and so I only picked them with you twice:
once, a boy, bewildered by your spiel
on death, decay and annual renewal
and then, again, toward last summer's end.
You savoured their sweetness; their loose clusters
trained on wires to curb their trailing habits
and, in the act we shared of harvesting,
knew something of the thing we call our selves
persists in conserving the yield: pears & plums;
tomatoes cut down from their twisting vines;
sunflower heads picked over for their seeds;
the beehives drained of honey in the orchard
and loganberries, big fat loganberries
burgeoning on the bush. Your 'favourite'.
They stained our fingertips as claret would;
as if - though thornless - they had drawn our blood,
each uvula of fruit sticky with unction -
waiting for the spread of fungi; leaf fall;
the swelling of humus & pumpkin globes;
your lips already whitened; the cold set in.
He banked on hope to keep the brood together;
was never there for all those major moments.
Take that summer's day when bees were humming
across the fallen walls that lay in huddles
at the elm-rotted edge of the orchard:
the girl on the swing was twirling her ribbons;
unbalanced, fell and broke a leg. She rubbed
her eyes, as if she were waking from Rip Van Winkle's
dream. Her brother stuck a stick into the nest
of bees above her, blind to her pain
and inside the house, hot towels and water
hung on a trivet, while a woman in calico
shuffled into the backroom with the sag
of age, to deliver the stillborn baby.