Poetry by Natalie Lerner
The dirt is hard and cracked, dust crumbling under my knees
And floating in the hot air. The sky is already bright blue.
My hands are full of strawberries, misshapen red blooms,
Full of the flavor of summer.
The juice runs down my chin, pink tracks dribbled down my shirt
And my brother’s. Our hands are stained too, little red scraps under our fingernails
As we rise from the dust, cardboard flats weighed down with heaps of Shuksan variety berries
Because those are the best kind.
Seven and a half pounds, says the little white scale in the booth,
And after that eight pounds and then seven and a quarter and then I lose track
Of all the boxes we are bringing home.
Piled in the blue van, my dad and brother and Lee and Terri Jo and Larry and me,
We listen to “Strawberry Fields Forever”
And smell the hot, sweet perfume of fresh-picked berries.
At home, the green of the grass and the foxglove and the mimosa tree is overwhelming,
Echoed by the celadon tablecloths covering the cheap rented tables,
Those same ones we get every year.
My brother runs through the backyard, hands full of empty water balloons,
Yelling about trying to fill one with jell-o.
Standing in the kitchen, my mouth is full of berries,
Each one bursting with sun and joy and June.
Crimson juice is everywhere, pooled in the cracks between the countertop tiles
And staining the sink basin, and
Sticky pink fingerprints speckle the white cupboards.
Red and yellow and sunlight wash over me and I breath in summer
Because this is happiness
To be surrounded by strawberries.