Blushing and round, destined
never to reproduce, never to run wild
lithe and vine-y like the feral strawberries webbing
my backyard, berries so tiny
they’re all seed.
I pop one in my mouth
lip-pucker tart crunch of seeds pincushioned
to a slip of bitter flesh—
so unlike you, California’s finest
big as a plum, grown for my pleasure,
sown in fields where nothing at all runs wild
where machines spray rain onto soil
fumigated with poison, spawning tender jumbos
plucked by human hands
only because you are too tender
to be plucked mechanically.
I slice you, sacrificial berry-lamb
stainless blade halves your weeping red heart
bred to slake my desire to sink deep
into toothsome depths, so red, so red—
you taste like Technicolor cricket-singing summers
like sparkler smoke clouding stars.
You taste like I did at five, shining in my smocked dress
melting like a popsicle in the sun
when the world seemed a safe place to spin and run.
Elaine Olund writes, designs and creates art in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her stories and poems have appeared in Peregrine, Flyway, Bartleby Snopes, Black Demin Lit, Turk’s Head Review, among others. Find her art and reflections at elaineolund.com.