Bowing deeply before the brambles,
Mama shows me how
to do it—to stretch an arm, to reach
for the plumpest, the sweetest, the bumpiest berries,
black as Satan’s heart yet
refreshing as an innocent soul.
We climbed kudzu-covered earth,
fallen, half-rotten logs, and a web of
honeysuckle to get here; no
scent of sulfur could survive
the pungent detritus of pine decay atop Carolina clay
mingling with the cloying saccharine incense of all these blooms.
There’s something worshipful in what we’re doing, the
mother and her young disciple,
seeking, nearly kneeling,
as we attempt to distinguish among
the fruits within the weeds and
choose only the choicest for the meal we’ll soon share.
A Forest In Winter
sway in the shadow of the Pleiades
under cover of new-moon night,
supplicant branches barren
after autumn’s harvest-time
danced a paso doble
full of heart, as if secure
in the now and the future times, come
what may; limbs now stripped
even yet stretch languidly,
comfortably, perhaps in the pleasure
of this night, and this sky,
and this place
in the universe.
Outside Looking In
Outside my bedroom window thirty years
ago, pine trees rose in a little grove
I’d once used as my play place—my imaginary palace
with fortified walls that barred entrance to evil warriors;
the long pine needles, sharp at their tips,
were my weapon of defense in fictional battles,
and my then-eighteen-year-old self still felt like a princess
with nothing but hopeful anticipation and dreams for my future.
Outside a dorm room window mere months
later, I knew there was nothing but barren Carolina clay
to break my fall—surely, to break my body—
were I to jump in an effort to escape
the clutches of a young wrestler determined to pin
me to his bed, to prove his manhood in his perverted
way; too late, I realized what would take place—
too late to save myself, too late to defend my dreams.
Outside my living room window, I see oak and maple trees
today, leaves a bleached shade of green
after nearly a full summer of sun, and I am trying
to be happy, and not to panic
as I prepare lists, and piles of laundry and supplies
for my now-eighteen-year-old adult-child—
I fight old fears from my own freshman year, and try to feel
nothing but hopeful anticipation and dreams for the future.
Margaret Adams Birth is the author of Borderlands (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her poetry has also appeared in such journals as Riverrun, Ship of Fools, The New Voices (Trinidad and Tobago), Aldebaran, Atlantic Pacific Press, Purple Patch (England), White Wall Review (Canada), Mobius, Black River Review, Perceptions (her poem there a Pushcart Prize nominee), Blue Lake Review, All Roads Will Lead You Home, and The Wild Goose Poetry Review.