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Nov 2014
I find my mother in the strawberry field
Not far from the river, kneeling in the dirt

the sun beats down her back
gray hair ruffling in a hot wind

It hasn’t rained in a month
and the earth is an old woman’s face,
cracked with longing

I kneel beside her, our hands on the dusty earth
This earth that she has dug every spring
kneeled upon every summer

Barefoot and sun burnt, plucking ripe red fruit
For pies and jams

Juice-stained lips and tired backs
My mother and her mother, on the porch
Sipping Sherry in sunsets of July’s and Augusts, year after year
Comparing blisters, freckles, wrinkles, lives
Buckets of strawberries overflowing in the kitchen sink

This year the strawberries are withered
*****, red raisins on my tongue
That taste bitter and sharp

I watch my mother, keening softly on the ground
Her heart peeled open and raw

I whisper to her, The dead don’t live very far away

Her swollen grey eyes search the field across the river
As if she expects to see Grandma standing there
Waving, mouthing soundless words on the air

I know when it’s her turn to change worlds, it will be me,
Kneeling here, in the sun’s bright assault
My own daughter by my side,
Witness to this grief,

Her soft, comforting voice, telling me,
The dead don’t live very far away.
Margrethe H K
Written by
Margrethe H K
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