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Early Berry Picking
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Early Berry Picking

It’s only April and we’re already picking berries,mother and daughter among the other mothersand daughters at Waller’s you-pick-’em field.

I carry the cardboard tray and white-ribboned markerwhile she canters down the row, hopping the beds,even when I tell her no. She is happiest on a horse,

or being one. We have read the instruction sheet,which grows more detailed every year—pick only the ripe ones,and pick all you see, pinching the stems, not capping them—

but it’s no use: she doesn’t like the lovelyhand-shaped ones I take, and I can’t get herto part the leaves and seek the mass of tiny, perfect

“strawbabies.” It is only the beginningof our differences. I know that. Todayat school was “Life Talks,” and now she doesn’t want to talk;

she isn’t hungry, but every fifth berry goes into her mouthuntil her chin runs with juice. That’s a dead giveaway,I say—we will have to pay extra at the scales.

And afterward, the air in the car will stink with themand us. We are full to overflowing now.I place the flag—keep setting limits. [End Page 187]

Andrea Selch

Andrea Selch’s poems have been published in Calyx, The MacGuffin, and Prairie Schooner. She is the author of Startling, and the small collection of ekphrastic poems, Boy Returning Water to the Sea: Koans for Kelly Fearing. Since 2002, she has directed Carolina Wren Press.

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