In Honor of the Pie
Today, I had the best slice of pie ever: Olallieberry pie. Flaky crust, tart berries, seeds getting stuck in my teeth…mmmm…
Olallieberries are a cross between the loganberry and the youngberry — both of which are crosses of other berries. If you look at the olallieberry family tree here, you can see that the olallieberry is its own cousin, or grandpa, or something. I was never good with geneaology. Its lineage looks like something out of Yoknapatawpha County.
All afternoon, I was trying to remember a poem I once read about blackberries, that ended with the line, “blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.” I found it — and two other wonderful blackberry poems. Would love to hear which one is YOUR favorite – and then I’ll tell you mine.
Meditation at LagunitasAll the new thinking is about loss.In this it resembles all the old thinking.The idea, for example, that each particular erasesthe luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunkof that black birch is, by his presence,some tragic falling off from a first worldof undivided light. Or the other notion that,because there is in this world no one thingto which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,a word is elegy to what it signifies.We talked about it late last night and in the voiceof my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tonealmost querulous. After a while I understood that,talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a womanI made love to and I remembered how, holdingher small shoulders in my hands sometimes,I felt a violent wonder at her presencelike a thirst for salt, for my childhood riverwith its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fishcalled pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.Longing, we say, because desire is fullof endless distances. I must have been the same to her.But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,the thing her father said that hurt her, whatshe dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinousas words, days that are the good flesh continuing.Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.— Robert Hass
Blackberry PickingLate August, given heavy rain and sunfor a full week, the blackberries would ripen.At first, just one, a glossy purple clotamong others, red, green, hard as a knot.You ate that first one and its flesh was sweetlike thickened wine: summer’s blood was in itleaving stains upon the tongue and lust forpicking. Then red ones inked up and that hungersent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-potswhere briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drillswe trekked and picked until the cans were full,until the tinkling bottom had been coveredwith green ones, and on top big dark blobs burnedlike a plate of eyes. Our hands were pepperedwith thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.But when the bath was filled we found a fur,A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.The juice was stinking too. Once off the bushthe fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fairthat all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.— Seamus Heaney
I love to go out in late September
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
they earn for knowing the black art
of blackberry-making; and as I stand among them
lifting the stalks to my mouth, the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry-eating in late September.