The blackberry thickets
are swollen again.
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.
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.