Tess Woitaszek

Blackberry Girls

The blackberry thickets

are swollen again.

Gather together

and gather our baskets.

We run towards the thickets.

The berries are small and wild.

We gather them, drop them into baskets.

Pop them into mouths.

We chatter about summer things

and laugh at the junebugs mounting

each other on the leaves.

Our little baskets are soon full.

We sit in the grass.

We are silent for a moment.

Then we slowly get up

and move towards the stone garden path.

There, we rub berries between our fingers.

On one of the stones, we each draw a line,

forming a blackberry star.

We gather around the stone.

At the five tips of the berry-stain star,

we set little offerings:

the head of a stray dandelion,

a slice of a halved crab apple,

the shred of a caterpillar-munched leaf,

a piece of shell from a fallen egg,

and the emerald wing of a dead junebug.

This is girlhood in summer.

We begin to braid blades

of grass together,

watching the star, waiting.

Braiding is never idle.

Old magic.

The little woven bundles

of grass are placed,

one by one, into the center of the star.

The offerings to summer

and girlhood swell

with a sweetening power.

Running through us:

Power magic blackberry hand holding twisting gathering.

Eat laughter, swallow its peals,

and smile it back up to

feed the afternoon like it’s a baby bird.

Anoint brows with blackberry mess.

Tell stories, singing, dancing.

Blackberry girls are released

to the earth in a torrent

of solstice and thicket.

They remember the ash and dust.

They remember the summer.

Tess Woitaszek is a senior at SUNY Geneseo in the process of earning her BA in English. She is also a part of the creative writing program with a focus on poetry.