Blackberries

Blackberry_ClusterI remember the plump sound of blackberries hitting the bottom of a metal pail, and the purple-black stains they bled onto my fingers. I ate as many as I put in the bucket, and likely more. Although I feared the bees that nested in the briar patch sweetness, I bore more scars from thorns than from stings, for nothing kept me from hunting the treasures on those broad-leafed vines.

Yet, as I grew from adventurous child to uncertain adult, life yielded less fruit until its vines were bare even of leaves. I continued to search, but the day came when — like the caged bird whose bloody wings can bear the pain of hope no longer — I turned from the briars, hung my empty pail upon a peg, and commanded myself to grow up; to accept there are no magic kingdoms in this world; to realize control is an illusion; to see that love is a deed, not a word; to know happiness is a snowflake, not a diamond. I must weep no more.

Where once I wore thin sundresses in which to gather berries, I now wore armor that grew thicker with each stinging encounter. Even my soul was encased in iron.

The brambles behind me withered, yet their brown thorns honed in death, clawing at Memory, for it could wear no skin tough enough to fend off the sudden ambushes of the past.

Then, longing for days of excitement and wonder, I wept. Armor rusted and fell away. Tributaries of hurt, anger, fear and loss fed the torrent, flowing out to flood fallow ground and dormant dreams.

Green appeared, and hope returned. New vines grew from tangled thorns, for now sun reached golden fingers toward the seeds, revealing an ancient truth that is new only to youth and folly: “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

Taking the old metal pail from its peg, I went down to the blackberry patch, and there I met life and reached deep into its heart to pluck from it the fruit that grows there, sweet despite the thorns.

— E. Easter

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