Baptism and Berries



I stepped into the waters of life there,
at Dog Island Park, where years later
stoners got high, lovers romped
in the overgrown brush. It was still

holy then. Father, Son,
and Spirit came to witness my girl-
wonder faith, burning like the river
water in my nostrils. He was holy then, too—

the minister who held my careful
hands against my chest, said the words
that mattered, just before his avalanche ride
into grace. That day, holiness dripped

from him, clung to me like a sheath
of innocence I, too, would lose, as surely as
our mirror-images, mine and the minister’s, would
scatter on impact, rippling into one.

{2004, Tricia Gates Brown}



Sweet roadside graces, blackberries
with your tuck-and-roll bodies, your
color deep as a pupil. When you offer

your life blood, I cannot refuse,
when you say take a risk, I step on in.
Blackberries, tastiest when briars tug

at your jeans, when you incline and try
each variant fruit. This one grown bitter
through trial, this one heavy with rain,

this one dry as a sobered drunk. I touch
them till I find one soft and ready, one
that bursts in my mouth like a sun.

But oh the tangled menagerie
of shadow and green!

This summer I will not collect
blackberries, a jug of bounty to gather
frost in my freezer, to lose its cordial

taste in a chilled, white bowl. No,
I will stop at the roadside every
evening, eat only enough for today.

I will pick the berries like manna
till they are a memory, a photo
tucked in the back of a book,
to return, seductive and warm, in season.

{First appeared in Rain Magazine, 2007}

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