Open as a Blackberry
Charles Cantrell

        for Wendell Berry

At 82 do you still chuck those heavy bales
to the loft? When you swing an ax, do you still feel
the shock up your arms as the blade
thunks the trunk of a dying black ash?
If the earth is a gift, right down to grass blades,
burrs, horse shit, warts on a hog’s hip,
what would you say to a woman visiting your farm
who is leery of nature? I’m thinking you might not
say much, but lead her to a field where early morning sun
is burning off the dew on a blackberry bush,
lush with berries—each shining in sunlight.
Pick one, then another, watch out for briars.
I think I know what you mean by, We cannot see
where we are and are lost in our own error
The flesh is married to the soil.
Those berries inhabit a world of their own,
and we’re invited, who would turn away?
And how far down does a blackberry bush’s roots go
before the darkness becomes their clarity and silence?

Charles Cantrell has poems in recent issues of Mudfish, Confrontation, UCity Review, Free State Review, District Lit, Exit 7, Citron Review, and Seven Circle Press. A full-length manuscript, Wild Wreckage, was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Brittingham and Pollak Awards from the University of Wisconsin Press. He’s been twice nominated for Pushcart Prize in poetry.