The Role of Raspberry

Because edible raspberries have perennial roots,
but biennial shoots, the fruit takes longer to show up;
it needs a good chilling first. It’s vigorous and invasive and
grows underground, emerging far from where you’d expect. 

One-hundred and two steps above Paw Paw Lake
just north of Watervliet, Michigan, there was a three-family
summer home called Topside. Campbell’s Landing
and Mrs. Foxx’s Camp for Girls lined the property
with single-flower hollyhocks of Halo Apricot and Red,
interspersed among running hedges of gnarled,
decades-old wild raspberry that created a barricade
on all sides—a hideaway.

Searching for the berries was an irresistible and confounding
experience of bramble snare; we’d eye the perfect ones
while squatting and scheming how to maneuver the tangle
of vine and thorn. There was no way out unscathed.

Mid-to-late summer the vines began to let go, as the berries
came to us by the handfuls, those carefree summers
out of Chicago far away from polio’s reach. Still,
at summers end, Labor Day, then the first day of school and
always an empty desk for the ones who didn’t return.

Published in Speckled Trout Review 2019

poetry, wnc writing, writing

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