I was too prickly, too wild,
Too thorny, too demanding,
Too aggressive,
Too unruly,
Too chaotic,
Too big.

Maybe if I hadn’t grown quite so high,
Or foolishly trailed my branches down to the ground,
Maybe if I had stayed exactly at eye-level
In easy reach…

Maybe if I had smoothed away my sharpness,
Pared back my leaves,
Plumped my juicy fruit,
Or curled appealingly into little bunches,
Maybe if I had been all sweetness,
Or had calibrated my tartness
To individual taste…

Maybe then my blackberries
Would not have been left
To wither on the vine.
Shrinking into tight little corpses,
Like insect shells,
Clinging to the stem,
And each day losing more life.

I produced
A plentitude of perfect berries,
Tumbling forth,
Heavy on the branches,
Filling the air with their luxuriant scent.
But your hands stayed unstained.
You left me there to dry,
Letting my prime and promise
Slip away
Day by day.

Does no human want berries
Free for the taking?
No friendly squirrel?
Or hungry bird?

Why have I been left with these gifts
I grew for others,
Which alone, I cannot use?

Maybe if I had been sweeter,
Or easier,
Or milder,
And let you strip my bushes bare,
I would not be faced
With a bitter cornucopia
Of untasted berries.
But maybe something would have been lost
In that unlived future, too.

And there is something to be said
For knowing that I grew
Not to please anyone,
Or satiate another’s palate.
My fruits were grown,
In the end,
For no one else,
Except me.

I proudly hold up my blackberries –
To the gaze of all who pass by.
They shine like jewels in the sun.

Photo by A.C. Smith