Brambles and Briers

blackberry_patch

The first lesson in a blackberry battle: You will bleed.

Do not scoff, believing you are nimble and strong, accept that it will be so. The only question in this contest is how much.

It’s been a kind and fruitful spring, enough sun, gentle rain, birds beginning to sing before sunrise (in what seems the middle of the night), a fortnight until solstice and the long day. If you are patient, and sit quietly, you can hear the green thrum in the garden.

Blackberries sent out their runner cane, from some secret mother root of all blackberries, and overtook my father’s yard. Tangled knots of brambles, tough wooden thorns that pierce new leather gloves, thick canes climbing the low limbs of the surrounding trees: this is the dragon. We are late. The new cane blooms into berries and the bees work the flower. A slow unwinding of the serpentine knot to salvage the roses.

Be patient.

Begin by circling the edges, testing.

When caught by the hair or the shirt sleeve, bitten by the dragon, resist the panic to tug away. This only tightens the grip of the beast. Lean in to the talons, against your instincts, and duck away. You were impatient.

You will bleed.

Stack the cane and hammer it with the flat of a rock rake. Roll it into a bale. Hammer again. Break the cane.

You will do this again, next year.

k.

 

Author: Kim K. McCrea

Kim K. McCrea worked for over 25 years as a Systems Analyst building out the internet of things before returning to letters. In 2017, Kim won the Treefort Wild West Prize for Creative Nonfiction and was named a finalist in both Proximity Magazine's Essay Prize competition and the Barry Lopez Creative Nonfiction Contest. Recently, her work was selected as runner up for Cutbank Literary Magazine's Big Sky, Short Prose contest. Kim lives in Eugene, Oregon, where she wrangles her Labrador in the rain and scouts for Great Blue Herons.

One thought on “Brambles and Briers”

  1. I like this one a lot Kim. It is the kind of writing I want to do every time I sit down to write. There’s a line in a rather obscure U2 song that sums it up for me: “The worst of us are a long drawn-out confession/the best of us are geniuses of compression.” You made every word count. Prose poetry.

    Concerning the topic, I have fought this same battle many times. Victory of the battle is sweet, but alas, we will never win the war.

    Liked by 1 person

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