Ed Harkness writes of “the sting of living” in this fond memory of horseplay with his sons.
Mountain Ash Berries
Hard bright clusters hang in the bare tree.
When the boys were boys, we’d cut
quarter inch PVC pipe for blowguns.
It woke you up to catch a berry
in the forehead or neck. But it was war,
How sweet to see myself sprint, crouch,
dodge and aim. Dad, you’re a dead man!
I see us three in the yard, leaves like years
matted on the lawn—a blur the more I stare.
How sweet the snap of a berry bullet
on the cheek—the sting of living,
a kiss you don’t forget. We’d blast
whatever moved, no rules, in late
October light, our jeans grass-grimed,
shirts badged with berry flesh. They moved on,
as kids do. How sweet to be shot,
to die, to come back to life.
First published in Beautiful Passing Lives (Pleasure Boat Studio Press, 2010).
Editor’s Note: Ed Harkness has published poetry with us before. Read his sobering “Confession.”
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Photo by Terry White /Flickr