GATHERING

“Enough!” they said, but we said “No!”
There were more elderberries on the bushes,
the bags we brought were not full,
so we picked and picked, stripping the thin branches
of their burden of shiny blueblack fruit,
while our husbands leaned against the car and talked of life.

Our sons remind us every year
that two flats of strawberries are enough,
that two buckets of blueberries are enough,
and we never listen.  How could we listen
with the fruit singing its scent over those fields?

Now there are apples.  All of them.
We pick until our fingers are swollen,
until we see apples in our dreams:
enormous pink spheres hanging
from the misty trees of that primeval orchard,
apples like the breasts of God.

Our barns are full, our freezers are full,
our shelves are full, our attics are full,
our basements are full, and it is not yet
enough.  From somewhere down inside
the grandmothers are poking at us:
Pick them, they hiss,  pick everything you can.
Winter is on the way.  You never know;  you can never
have enough. And we will never have enough,
not until all the apple trees of Earth are bare
and all the hoarding places of Earth are filled.
Not until all the bellies are filled
and the children dance laughing
down the clean-picked rows.

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