Food Poetry: Blackberry Dumplings, by Gayle Black
by Gayle Black
Descending the hillside,
After days of drizzle
The weeds trampled down in preparation
Drying out between the bramble
I arrive to gather the bounty
Blackberries, true gems of deep purple
And shining red in promise of another raid
Tomorrow, for now the sun is gentled in July
By the soft wind and departed rain,
Woven into new clouds above me
As I weave along the hillside, remembering
My mother’s nimble fingers
Filling a metal bucket so quickly on other hillsides.
For this task alone she donned men’s work pants,
Which fitted her awkwardly around her belly
That had carried six of us into the world
While she gathered in the fruit she would sometimes remember
Beaux from long ago and an early marriage ended by untimely death.
“He treated me like a woman.,” she would always say
And I would sigh in regret because I knew it meant
My own father just took her long toil and good heart for granted.
And perhaps so did I as a child, but now remembering
Her blackberry dumplings, I feel that she was even more than a woman
Nearly a goddess I was lucky enough to have been granted the privilege to call mother.
Blackberries which ripen in July, her birth month always will be her token to me.
And I pluck them and eat them and sometimes make jam for cake at Christmas
All in memory of her immeasurable bounty that continues though she left all toil behind long years ago.
And the little toil I expend gathering the fruit is simply a little line to her great work ended yet unending forever.