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Two Deep Breaths: Blackberry Eating

Justin Rigamonti

A Weekly Poem to Lift Your Spirits and Help You Catch Your Breath

We’re a couple weeks into autumn now, a time of year that (almost) everyone loves— and no one loves it more than poets. The season, with its long light and bright leaves, has been memorialized in countless poems, a few of which I’ll share with you this quarter. Incidentally, that’s one thing I love about teaching at a college that follows the quarter system— each term begins and ends with a new season.

Here’s a poem by the late great Galway Kinnell, one time poet laureate of the state of Vermont, where they have notoriously beautiful autumns. I love the way this poem draws a parallel between late September blackberries and writing poetry.

Blackberry Eating

by Galway Kinnell

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.

Read the poem on Poets.org