Blackberries

O' to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard.
--Li-Young Lee


He works in fields with heavy
boots, surveying the land
in accurate measurements.
Sometimes he traverses
poison oak to get the right angle,
or walks up dry mountains
on the bobcat tracks.

Today he picked blackberries for me,

the bursting fruits that hang low
on their prickled boughs.
He picked enough to fill his coffee cup,
a perfect purple mound
to bring home.

He set them on the kitchen counter
in a tan ceramic bowl
like a trophy.
"They're for your vanilla
ice cream." His eyes
all wonder and pride,

a man who always
loved being a boy,
who carries
that tart but sweet
seed inside him.

But also a man
who has learned
how to be a man
by his own discoveries,
however small,
that his love brings
into beaming focus.


Renditions of Moon

Moon: sundried
lemon wedge
shrinking in its shadowed background.
I seek the times when it swells,

a balloon in the hand of a child
so full
it escapes skyward
and settles there.

The child,
or anyone,
can grow
to depend on its constancy,
like our mothers tucking us in at night,
clicking on the blue moon
night light, leaving the door ajar
behind her.

Tonight,
smoldered and lightless,
I sit heavy,
coveting the moon
to show
his round beaming
face
around here

to make up
for all the times
the pin prick
popped
my balloons.

And my heart,

my full heart.


Go Deep

Go deep. Deeper.
Start with my eyes
where I play your image,
and then go around them
to where all my dusty
worlds are reeled.

Uncoil me, if you get that far.

Start with the pit
of my stomach
where memories of alone
are knotted. Knead me
open, if you're that patient.

The wise woman told me
there is everything I find beautiful
in the center of my chest, moated
by fogged blocks of gray.

So if you can get through that, if
your soft, patient fingers
can twirl an opening,
if you have the stomach for it,
if you can set aside one small
warm breath to puff
into it,

the effort alone
will get you in.

And all my stuck
cells will unfurl.
And the world
that hasn't even
been created yet

will spin

on its own axis.


© Julie Valin from her book, Effecting the Moon: A crescent book of poems which is available by sending a check for $5 to the Nevada County Poetry Series, P.O. Box 2416, Grass Valley, CA 95945. Julie will be giving a featured reading at Luna's in Summer 2005.