Judith Skillman
Picking Blueberries

Impressionistic, the poplars waving
above Mercer slough
where two boys hunt for snakes
using only a bucket and the machismo
they were born with.  

The bushes tall and orange-red,
the berry stems like wicks
set to tease out blues from the furrows—
rows swollen and rubbed raw
by other pickers.

We like to take the easy ones
full of sweetness, like the painter who sees
nothing but paradisiacal imaginings
above his easel: couples in canoes,
couples in kayaks,

the paddle raised high
before it dips into water
to disturb a crust of algae.
The painter over his head
in beauty, entranced.

September.  Another winter
quivers in the bog
as it moves toward us.
There we'll reinvent
dreams of summer.

Then we'll remember
the inky harvest—
whatever fell into our creased palms
to purple our fingers
and darken our tongues.