Wild strawberries


What I get I bring home to you:
a dark handful, sweet-edged,
dissolving in one mouthful.

I bother to bring them for you
though they’re so quickly over,
pulpless, sliding to juice

a grainy rub on the tongue
and the taste’s gone. If you remember
we were in the woods at wild strawberry time

and I was making a basket of dockleaves
to hold what you’d picked,
but the cold leaves unplaited themselves

and slid apart, and again unplaited themselves
until I gave up and ate wild strawberries
out of your hands for sweetness.

I lipped at your palm –
the little salt edge there,
the tang of money you’d handled.

As we stayed in the wood, hidden,
we heard the sound system below us
calling the winners at Chepstow,
faint as the breeze turned.

The sun came out on us, the shade blotches
went hazel: we heard names
bubble like stock-doves over the woods

as jockeys in stained silks gentled
those sweat-dark, shuddering horses
down to the walk.

from Out of the Blue, New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2001), © Helen Dunmore 2001, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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