Oh Lidia, in your yellow dress,
with all of summer
streaming out behind.
Blackberries in plastic bags.
You squeezed the fruit, hands stained.
Me with the bear face on my shirt.
Crowds of grasshoppers
singing us and ants along.
Stony path stretching on ahead.
Buzz of childhood and lazy late bees.
Today in winter’s dripping cold
I stand to tell the teacher
what the picture has to say.
In the foreground, the path.
In the background, the hills.
On the middle, my friend with moras.
In the middle, she corrects.
Blackberries, their name is blackberries.
Black, yes, it was almost black,
the thin dark trail
behind you on the path.
And arriving in the village,
the insides of the toad.
Remember Encarna, on her doorstep,
all purple skin and minty smile,
stabbing with the pole?
Dust on our feet, dirt in our hair,
sun on our skin, your yellow dress
and the trail of blackberry blood
to show just where we’d been.
It was not a success, the lunch. Washed
hands lifted lids, broke yesterday’s bread.
Wine blackened lips. Tepid talk turned no
heads. Fish skeletons slid on silent plates.
The apples were bruised, the coffee thick.
In the golden hours behind blue walls we
played at pleasing fruitlessly. I wiped you
clean. You wiped my cheek. We betray
in the blink of a bird as it flies from the
fence. Daily, lying in the blur of the sun,
a piece of pride cracks. Did you forget
one jealous kiss changed everything?
Far better to be cowardly in love. This
is the end says your thorned mouth to
the desert that is mine, causing crows
to shrink in circles up above. There is
light, they say, in the moment a heart stops.
People return to tell of shining tunnel ends.
I saw crushed velvet, tangled trim, the leaves
of the poplars as they tussled with the wind.
Sara Barnard is from the UK, has studied, taught, and written in Spain and Canada, and is now based on a sailboat (currently in Central America) with her husband, child, and laptop for company. The last few years have mainly been about parenting and PhDing. Say hi on Twitter: @Sara_Barnard Read about her sailing adventures at www.sailingillusion.com
Image by Rebecca Sims, found on Flickr: https://flic.kr/p/8oVKhp