I cannot trust someone who can just walk away
from an unpicked berry patch without
at least one wistful, backwards glance.
There’s always one more spot, a little farther in,
where the berries sway tauntingly
heavy and purple; wink seductively
from behind leaves and brambles.
I have a gatherer’s soul and, barring
bears and stepped on hornet’s nests,
I am genetically compelled to fill
the bag or box or ball cap.
It’s not greed that drives me,
it’s a deep rooted survival instinct.
It is physically painful to leave an eligible berry
And yet they come, these sport gatherers,
picking just enough to put in their muffins.
No thought for jelly spread lovingly on winter toast.
No plans for how to fit just one more bag of berries
in the freezer.
Laughing and chattering like magpies.
Do they feel the eyes of a thousand years of gatherers
watching them, guiding their hands,
steeling their resolve?
Do they see the primordial link?
The purity of the simple act of picking berries?
I see my hand move and know that my great
grandmother to the nth degree once moved
her hand the same way, once
hefted her heavy basket and thought of how
the spoils would feed her family.
I feel a weight of responsibility to pick,
to store, to preserve.
No, I cannot trust someone who can just walk
away from an unpicked berry patch.