for a psalm is call and response.
by Kathryn Gessner
Damn hungry. The state of summer.
Always far from home when it hit.
I learned to forage, chew sassafras,
cup berries in my palms.
Turned itchy by nightfall,
poured calamine on my legs.
Some long stretch of the path,
nettles stinging my ankles,
secured it: I no longer get poisoned
by ivy or oak. I can stand in it.
Wineberries, sticky and delectable as they are,
are full of competing insects.
Pushing through to the moist ripe ones,
small bloody etchings appear on my shins.
Mulberries have no thorns
but I must walk a long way to the tree.
Whenever I want something, and it’s hot,
I want mulberries. My grandmother’s tree
grew over the driveway, stained my feet,
my lips and hands, and purpled the leather
of worn sandals.
If I stayed long enough beneath the tree
all the others would fade away.
I was the last picker, solitary,
tugging the branches, reaching up,
nothing but twilight handfuls
carrying me back to my bed.