April is National Poetry Month, and to mark the occasion we'll be sharing some of our favourite poems from collections we've published over the years. Today's poem is "On My Knees at the Strawberry U-Pick" by Lynn Davies from the collection how the gods pour tea.
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"On My Knees at the Strawberry U-Pick"
by Lynn Davies
Both hands part the leaves, steady plunk
of berries in the box. Traffic’s breath from the highway
through the trees and the mother says sure you can
eat some. I don’t know if gulls like berries. Yes,
we’ll leave soon. And a woman beginning to show
tells her friend I knew pretty soon this one
was okay. I lie on my side to pick in comfort
and wonder how many miscarriages.
Then the adolescent girl complains of her back,
the straw, her neck, the heat, and her aunt replies we all
have hardships, you know. The berries spill and the girl
scolds herself but the aunt says we’ll both
take the blame for that. A toad hops onto my prickly,
straw-covered row. I squat, I stand. A man complains
about his wife, how she withholds money, how sick
she is with cancer, how he can’t go out with the boys
at night if she knows. A pity she’s not dead yet he says
a real pity. I carry my 19 pounds to the car
and wonder if she’ll find a way to take the money
with her. A berry-stained boy stretched out in the sun
and straw says some day I’ll dedicate my life
to counting and his friend replies maybe
you’ll find a new number. Is it a share
of godliness, carrying these lines with me
into sleep and the days ahead, loving it all,
the bits of straw, the rotting fruit, my red hands
washing and hulling berry after berry
into the night? How the boys lay down
to ponder infinity, how the idea of fruit flies
spurs me on. Above the fields, the new moon
rises, suggests the rest of its cratered self.