Rachel Mehl


Blackberries, Blackberries, Blackberries

After Robert Hass

We are eating summer by the handful,
the juice staining our children’s fingers and hair,
the thorns tearing their tights and leotards.
Our names are both Rachel, and I’m not sure yet
if that fits into this poem,
but my son, fat and barefoot sits in the stroller
and points to the berries, and points to his mouth
while the girls fill his fists with sweetness.
We talk over them of this broken country,
of what spoils we will leave them,
of the Trader Joe’s employee in California,
shot by police. Of the police calling it justified.
Our daughters plan to marry each other and live
in a rainbow castle with cows and pigs and alicorns.
My friend says she’s religious,
that word that makes me feel as a blade of grass must,
when black plastic is dropped to smother it
for next seasons garden. She says for her it is the rituals,
enjoying the moment, like picking blackberries
adjacent to a gravel lot in late July.
Tomorrow we will learn our daughter’s dance teacher
has stage 4 cancer, it has spread from lung to bone.
Now my son has smeared blackberry on his white shirt
so it looks like he’s been shot, but don’t listen to me.
Listen to the girls. Hear them say,
“rainbow, rainbow, rainbow”

RACHEL MEHL’s poems have most recently appeared in Psaltry & Lyre, and are forthcoming in Pontoon. She has an MFA from University of Oregon and lives in Bellingham, WA with her husband and two young children.