Wild Strawberries by Lisa Cihlar

I did not call my mother today.
I thought about her watching birds.
Hummingbirds, ready soon to fly south.
Tongue sugar water,
buzz each other in aerial wars
to keep the food for themselves,
as if they had no mother
trilling at them to share and behave
and go outside and play
and keep out of her hair
for just five minutes
give her some peace.
Then she locks the door.

When people ask why
I have no kids, I say,
married too late,
don't want to bring them
into this world of war.
But really, could I face the possibility
of my mother in my voice,
in my face, in my hands?
The smell of old cigarettes and hair
that should have been washed the day before?
Complaints of headaches
and this hurts and that aches?

She took us to pick wild strawberries
up the road, by a culvert
where the water sat
making the berries bigger and sweeter.
I fell off my bike,
the pink one with the banana seat,
sparkling steamers
on the high-rise handle bars,
scraping the scabs from last week's tumble.

Blood wells up, strawberry colored.
Smell of aluminum shavings,
runs slowly, prickling
a trail down my calf.
Don't get blood on your socks!
She picks a big oak leaf
shaped like a webbed hand.
Clean it off with this.
Crying as the gravel rolls under the wipe.
You don't know what pain is.

Maybe it is the berries
pecked by blackbirds.
Throw most away.
I eat one with a hole,
tastes red in my mouth,
imagine the wings I'll get,
the flock I'll join.
The hummingbird I'll become.

@ - 2008 -Cihlar

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