It’s ripe strawberries that bring me
to my knees in the garden this morning,
impossibly big and red as those
on the covers of gardening magazines in January
and almost as sweet as the small wild ones
my brother and I picked up on Best’s Hill,
eating more than we dropped into the coffee cans
our mother fitted with wire handles.
If a cloud moved across that blue sky
casting a shadow, I didn’t notice,
the snakes we were warned about
never appeared, and who could see,
even in that brilliant light,
beyond the quiet hills all the way to Vietnam
and the war he’d carry back with him.
Heads down we browsed through the field
until we were filled and drowsy,
sprawled next to each other in the warm grass,
juice smeared across our T-shirts,
our mouths and hands.
“Strawberries” by Paul Martin from Closing Distances. © The Backwaters Press, 2009.