Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Bees in morning clover. Floppy-hatted, armed with two baskets each, we gathered strawberries at a local farm. What did it matter that my spine nagged, that I spent most of the time on hands and knees – at 10 o’clock the sun was generously warm, and our baskets soon topple-tilted with the tart and jammy fruit. Someone was in his heaven if there was coffee and Cointreau on the terrace and fresh, hard-worked for strawberries to look forward to.

a taste of honey
in the strawberry fields –
slugs too

The swelling sun was glittering redly through the tops of the tallest skyline trees when we took them finally from their place of cold and dark confinement. Carefully, we piled them into pyramids and dressed them with drizzles of honeyed crystal; then left them to sweat while we feasted on meat and wine. And when, at last, we brought them – glistening – to the table for the slow annointment with rivulets of cream, the warm sweetness of their flesh incensed our nostrils. Our gods spoke. We raised the implements of scooped steel and sought some sign to begin the chase and slaughter. We saw their pinkness run out into the white bowls, and our stained mouths murmured mantras of devotion. Only briefly did we stop to decide which ones would be the last – the chosen ones.

images on TV.
All the swollen bellies –
one sort or another

Later, the three of us sat out on the warm, stone-flagged patio; and alcohol worked its analgesic miracles. We watched the garden dissolve away at the edges as light decayed to other wavelengths, and conversation frayed into silence and the drugged amnesia of honey suckle. But the slow drip of Bacardi to my brain went unchecked; and as one pain drowned, others bloated their way back to the surface. Abruptly, it was time to leave – and suddenly the fixed stars above the tarmac mile stretching back to my lodgings seemed less steady than on other occasions.

a sky full of stars –
how great the gulf between us.
Only a mile to go

Summer '92

by Bamboo Shoot
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
haibun "Stawberrying" first published in Blithe Spirit 14:3, 2004

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