"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


Wild Blackberry

Wild Blackberry

All I know for sure is this blackberry I hold. It grew wild in my yard, ripened near to busting, smells like summer and looks like blood.  It stains my fingers and tastes like June.  Maybe in January when I’m desperate for warmth I’ll come back to this day and remember the sunny juices.  The blackberry is deceptive; it gushes sweet at first then turns tart like a pang, and it’s messy and the seeds get lodged in my teeth.  I spread the berry juice along my ankle and recall a time when these legs were young and brown, they never ached and never failed me. They carried me all across the county and I’m glad of it because now I’m an old hermit woman, doing what I like, listening to the birds trill, “Where are we going?  Where are we going?” and knowing I don’t have to go.  That mountain over there is way older than me and it stays put, too, no need to go rambling.  That’s for the children and the birds, “Where are we going,” they say, and the wind sighs and the earth pulses, “O these youngsters.”  The blackberry juice has dried on my fingers now and of a sudden I smell autumn way early, have I dreamed it?  I am terrified of the cold.  Maybe I’ve slept through summer and the birds have gone.  See, it’s warpaint that I wear and it’s not going away, not ever: the red-purple juice stains like the bruises he gave me for the last time, after our girl-baby was born dead and the blood ran down my legs, but I had just enough strength to grab the knife.  My oldest daughter cleaned up and said Mama it’s dark moon so we have all night to bury him.


A native of western North Carolina, Ellen J. Perry’s academic interests include 17th- and 18th-century British life and literature, Restoration drama, and Southern/ Appalachian culture. Her story "Milk, Bread, Soft Drinks" was awarded First Place in Fiction by the Bacopa Literary Review. Ellen enjoys teaching her amazing college students, working on projects related to women’s rights activism, and playing with her stylish cat, Ms. Coco Chanel. Website: www.ellenjperry.com, Twitter: @ellenjperry

Cover photo by Magova from Pexels

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