Douglas Woodsum

Blackberry War

I do not often go looking for black.
Afraid of the old dark all my life, I’ve learned
To be in darkness and control my fear,
Learned how rare it is to find true darkness.
It’s found deep in new moon woods on starless nights
Or in the windowless cellar of a house
With the door shut tight at the top of the steps
And the metal bulkhead padlocked outside.
War is another way into the black:
The tracers and coffins I need not recount.
Instead, I will take my white, plastic quart
Containers up the dust trails to Mutton Hill
And gently pick the oversized berries,
Black as the darkest thoughts of man but sweet
As darkness never becomes. There on the hill,
At the hot end of August, when most plants are leaning
Toward ruin, and there’s neither a house nor a light,
I will pick black thoughts, one thought per berry,
And taste a few as well, and wonder what’s new
With the war; when it’s late, and the world leans toward ruin.

Douglas Woodsum
Blackberry War first appeared in English Journal, Vol. 94, #1.
Poem, copyright © 2005 by Douglas Woodsum
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse