The Stawberry Patch
Working in a field of clover green,
with the evening sun upon her face,
a young women labors in a balmy breeze
that filled her hair of golden grace.
A horse and cart were standing by
to carry her berries away.
A plentiful strawberry supply
in quarts she had picked that day.
With berry stained hands she arranged her prize
to bear the long ride back.
For she knew, all too well, it would be wise
to secure every stack.
Her evening solace was broken by noise,
the rumble of a Model T.
Passing her by was a roadster of boys
laughing in a liquored jubilee.
She watched the dust fly as the vehicle braked,
for one boy saw her standing there.
The ominous dust approached her way like a wake
as it’s sepia like cloud filled the air.
The laughing continued as the boys approached,
the eldest with a menacing visage.
She could tell by the gate of the gang’s coach
that alcohol had sealed their message.
Hearing her own heartbeat resound in her head
and her chest about to explode,
with no thought of her berries, away she fled,
away from the dust clouded road.
The boys pursued her delicate form,
all four were yelling in raillery.
Had not for their stupor from the juice of the corn,
they would have over taken their quarry.
Like an elegant snowflake she droped out of sight.
Silence overtook the meadow.
Forward with the sense of impending fright
the boys moved through the evening shadows.
Nearly falling in; and at the eldest’s feet
lay a dark and musty hole.
An abandoned cistern for one to meet,
to pay life’s final toll.
After hurried and fumbled matches were lit
to light where he almost had slipped,
there she lay lifeless in the shadowy pit
with strawberry stains upon her lips.
His mind a scramble to cover their sin,
and twisting at his tweed suit,
cried, “Let’s gather rocks to throw in.”
While the youngest stood pale and mute.
Field stones were gathered to fill the hole,
to cover up their transgression.
The stones were dropped noising a blunt echo,
followed by a stone upon stone percussion.
A pact was made between the boys
to tell no other soul.
Her graven image has sealed all joys
and chained them to that dismal hole.
Now fifty years have long since past,
and a forsaken grave remains.
While weeds o’er take the land in fast,
No berry patch they claim.
In June the vine’s bumper crop,
over a bed of weedless straw,
brings forth a strawberry none can top
by laborious hands that no one saw.
A weary old man who had bought the land
with his wife to enjoy it’s solitude,
was amazed at a produce by no one’s hand.
The wife praising God in joyful gratitude.
But curious the old man was,
late in the month of June,
he hid behind a mulberry bush
shadowed from the midnight moon.
While clandestine in his secret place,
his skin chilled with evening dew,
he saw in the moonlight a pale face
bearing crestfallen eyes of midnight blue.
She moved before him with esoteric beauty
picking each ample fruit she wist.
Her angelic hair flowed in airless sanctity
over her ashen gown of formless mist.
A sodden chill filled the old man’s chest.
Now face to face with what he had most dread.
With an aged fist clenched tight to his breast
he fell to the mildewed ground as dead.
Awakening, a familiar odor filled his senses,
that of cinnamon, nutmeg, and mold.
A smell from his youth, his frail mind resests,
as thoughts and dreams and memories unfold.
The pillow under his head felt of fine linen,
soft cool fingers stroked his grey hair.
Finding his cushion the lap of the women
his face revealed a deathly stare.
She comforted him with words of care,
of her pride in her crimson garden.
She spoke of grace as she stroked his hair,
then said; “Only love can grant a pardon.”
The night past quickly as they picked the crop
sorting their berries together.
The sun was rising, they had to stop,
though he wanted this forever.
The old man shared the tale with his wife
of the cerebral bond they bore.
How now his thoughts of the pith of life
were from a gentle gardener’s lore.
He sought her counsel for many years
as time would pass so soon,
She would speak to him of joy and tears
as they picked the fruit of June.
His demeanor improved with each passing day
His wife astonished at his change.
At home they would pass the hours away
together, at work, conversation, and games.
Then one evening, home, he’d not return.
No lantern on the grate.
The old man’s wife left for the berm
to find her meandering mate.
Upon a knoll she found the patch,
no keepers were in sight,
only shadowed illusions in a nearby thatch
illumined by her light.
She saw a pale form in the distant sway,
its beckon adding to her confusion.
Her feet mired as she heard herself say,
“Lord, give me strength at this illusion.”
Approaching the form, the air a fine mist,
she saw attached to a tree
the pale white linen that moved her to wrest
with the specter of night she did see.
Approaching the cistern, against a cool breeze,
she saw the still form of her man.
Her body now trembling as she fell to her knees,
to remove a crumpled note from his hand.
Wiping moist eyes, grasping the note in the light,
she strained to read his last words.
She girded herself and gathered her might
as she read of his final demur.
He wrote of a lad who admired his brothers,
who followed whatever they did.
He wrote of a death that was told to no other
and how the cruel crime was hid.
He wrote of his youth, smitten then purged,
how for years his heart had been hardened,
until his tired soul grasped her merciful words;
“Only love can grant a pardon.”
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Comments about this poem (The Stawberry Patch by Psaltydog's Thoughts )
- J.Bast, I try your face... - translation.., Lyudmila Purgina
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- Resurgence, DEEPAK KUMAR PATTANAYAK
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