Our mother in the blackberry bushes. Who knew
where she came from, with her peach-colored sweater and
blue bucket hat. Someone said she had yellow hair
when she was young. As if that were important. This day,
under a summer sky, she names wildflowers with her hands and
fishes through brambles for berries. She hums
what served as a lullaby, when her children were children. Someone
said she was a good mother. Who remembers?
She always foraged, always picked up ideas on the side of the road
(like blackberries) and brought them home. Cartons of recycled cardboard,
green and sugar-stained. We were like fingers inked in blue-black juice, teeth
grinning and gritted with seeds, stomachs rumbling with joy.
Someone said we should be patient, and make pie, as if as
there was something important about eating food
with forks. When did we know we were children exiled, our
mother singing us back from the thickets
with a lullaby. In the end what is hunger but lack
and we lacked for nothing. Someone said we had plenty
of nothing. Who remembers. We had our mother, who had blackberry
bushes. And there was something important about that.
Hannah Riffell is an upcoming graduate of Calvin University, where she studies writing and business. She won the 2018 National Writers Series Poetry Scholarship and the 2021 Academy of American Poets Prize for Calvin University. Her work is featured or forthcoming in PANK Magazine, Heavy Feather Review, Dialogue, and the National Writers Series Journal. She hopes to continue sharing poetry after graduation.