Today's poem is by Cynthia Huntington


I picked the blackberries because I was poor
and an orphan, and falsely accused.
I picked blackberries belonging to that woman
who watched me with suspicion, and recorded all my crimes.

My crime that day was theft.
Theft and hunger, and ingratitude.
I picked blackberries and ate them, and licked
the stain of them from my hands, and the seeds,

and ate the little leaves that stuck to my fingers,
and sucked at the collar of my dress where juices
ran down and left a dark stain on the cotton.
A drop of blackberry fell through the leaves
on to the back of a box turtle
who crawled away, bearing that testimony.

I ran and hid behind the tool and die factory
where men were honing molds in the whining spasms
of a steel saw. The sound hurt my ears.
I raised my arms to cover them
and saw my hands cut off, a dark stain pumping
methodically from my wrists, spilled on to the ground.

She would have no use for me now.
And as I was poor and an orphan,
must I then be sacrificed?

I pressed my wrists together, cut to cut
to staunch the blood, to stay the surge,
the flux that would have emptied out my heart.

I gave up my arms like vines to this fusion;
I tied myself into a knot; a liana rooted to myself;
I gave up reaching,
became the one who could not claim or hold:
I was that determined to live.

Copyright © 2005 Cynthia Huntington All rights reserved
from Crying Sky
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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