by Mantz Yorke


The cold winter, June’s heat and August’s rain
have stimulated blackberries into profusion:
less welcome, they’ve prompted nettles to climb
through the tangles of arched canes. Cautiously,

I pull at berries that are black and shiny as caviar,
offering silent apologies to the spiders whose webs –
freshly spun overnight – I wreck. Some berries resist
the pull, but a slight twist is usually enough

to leave them in my hand. A few cling more tightly
to their sprays than beady blackness would suggest:
I abandon them, unwilling to risk a raking
from the brambles lashing back, or overbalancing

into a stinging snarl of thorns. I leave unplucked
the dull fruit the devil’s pissed on: they’re only fit
to rot among the nettles and would simply squish
into juice the moment they were touched.

Plenty of pickings from the hedges, where sloes
are turning purple and occasional arum berries
bobble orange in the undergrowth: in no time
I’ve filled two lunchboxes and a freezer bag –

about six pounds, I guess. I’ll boil my harvest
with chopped apples, sieve the pulp, add sugar
and re-boil till a spot wrinkles on a chilled plate.
I’ll keep fingers crossed the jelly will set.


Image by @jerseypics via Pexels