Blueberries

My father takes me blueberry picking every summer.
“It works like this,” he tells me, “leave the ones that are too soft,
pluck the round, firm berries and leave the rest for the birds.”
“We’ll freeze them,” he says, “have blueberry tarts all year.”
When summer passes,
we will still have something that is sweet.

I shove blueberries in my mouth, greedy, hungry,
practicing for Persephone.
My father is patient, “not like that, my love, put them in the basket.”
Sometimes the ripest, purest things come later.

In the blueberry patch we understand each other,
and for a moment my tiny world is much larger.
It’s gods and goddesses,
braided dough, made and unmade,
it’s I don’t know what you’re going to do to us yet,
and that is the greatest blessing of all.

We take the blueberries home to my mother,
she washes them, puts them on metal trays, and into the freezer.
They work together, my father brings something home
and my mother polishes it, makes it new.
Think of the simple machines I learned in school,
one at each end of the fulcrum, the balance is absolutely perfect
as long as we all stay the same.

The last summer we pick blueberries
is the summer he breaks my heart.
I don’t eat a single berry.
I’ve learned sweet, bright things turn sour and grey
the second you stop believing in them.

“I’ll make a tart,” he tells me, “come over and I’ll make us a blueberry tart.”

At home my mother and I pluck
our blue-blooded hearts from our chests,
rinse them in cold water, lay them on metal trays,
and freeze them.

We pray when winter is over, we
will still have something that is sweet.

Louise Platter is a poet from Athens, Georgia. She is working towards a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management at the University of Georgia. Her work is inspired by confessional poets, the natural world, and her undergraduate studies in literature and philosophy.

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