like she'd jumped Into bed, not the seat of a carThursday, February 01, 2018
A bug or a berry got stuck in my hair
when my head was buried in leaves
and eyes uplifted for the ripe
but recondite fruit of the raspberry bush.
The tickly, little thing slipped down
and stalled between my neck and collar.
I reached back over my shoulder
and squeezed it, expecting a crushed
spider or mosquito, where her finger
landed to tap me for a long-
ago dance in the ladies’ choice.
I squeezed to avoid a splash of blood
or berry juice on my shirt from the slap
to drive away her attention,
too well-endowed and much too soon
for her to press against me
a nubile dolt ready to burst
at the feel of her fingers on me.
Was it fruit, lush with the sugars of sunshine, I touched
or bug, flush with the blood and sweat of my own skin?
“Don’t stop. Just throw me out,
here,” she said in order not to be heard
being left off closer to home. She said it
like she’d jumped into bed, not the seat of a car,
and woke up to her body beside me,
just as I woke up to hers, having squeezed
at the fatness between my fingers, and thrown it
out into the raspberry patch, where, when I looked
to see what it really was, I couldn’t find it.
Buzzed, crawled off it had, and what if it were
a pure emission of afternoon sun, a gob of Helios,
throbbing raspberry red on a raspberry wand,
and her whole body, shrunk to a plump
unseeable feeling. Red raspberry rube, too defective
a detective for this obese mystery (burst bug
or eviscerated berry), I picked through the white
kitchen colander I collected the raspberries in —
perhaps it was in there, there? — as these red-faced gods
still wreathed in leaves, watched me, saying nothing
about the incapacity of a prude like me to deal with
what I felt too fat and sweet, who believèd not that
a little divinity tapped me on the shoulder and still
drops the fruit of her finger down the back of my neck,
and at night, shocks me with the feeling of a squeezed
nipple everywhere I lie.
George McWhirter is a Irish-born poet. He was Vancouver Poet Laureate (2007-2009). He taught literature at UBC for many years. He has translated Mexican poet and novelist Homero Aridjis into English.