ONE : each summer we struck the days
till we could cross the gravelled car park to the swaying reams of promise-green.
we sought the squeezed needlepricks that, swollen, strained between the leaves:
our ruddy prince, the strawberries.
walking through, the bush seemed bare
but crawling by the baking soil,
our prize hung there
in crimson bursts that clustered at our chins and mouth corners.
in the 3.00 sun we lay on the earth and how we laughed.
mosquitos plump with blood-red mirth.
TWO : then home. we knelt on the paves 'fore a frothy sludge,
our green knees gathered around the carton and indulged a dormant instinct to squash and mash and mix around that every child is born with. into that batter we did rub
that famous squelch-enhancer, mud,
'till tired of stirring, we abandoned our brew,
which, in the warmth, was left to stew.
THREE : some bloomed full and brightest scarlet, fat on sun like a babe’s drunken milk-glut.
this stout breed we ever did pursue,
prospectors of red gold.
others emerged ghost-green
(plucked too soon, perhaps),
never chosen deliberately, yet alway seeming to slip into the baskets, an anaemic knot
naught amidst the flush,
yet somehow always last to rot.
i never put them back.
in my pale haul, these sickly clots inspired an odd pity.
- @creativekommons. painting: the strawberry girl (1772-3), joshua reynolds.