Into the Open

by Jenny Haysom

My mother was afraid but sent me anyway—armed
with buckets, sticky with bug spray—to the lowbush thicket
at the edge of the field.
            There were bears
in the spruce alongside, and hunters
with rifles, but I turned my back to them,
knelt on the thin coverlet
of tart soil, plucked
wild blueberries from the bedrock
and filled my pail with their variegated
ripening: the odd one
green and inedible, some pink
going purple, an occasional leaf poking up
like the blade of a butterknife.
               The ripest, almost
blue. Rub the mist from the surface
and they were blackish—
             my breath
wiped from a window at night.

Sometimes I’d stop and sample them, knew
how all the colours tasted, felt each frilly crown
on my tongue.
        I kept those particulars
close at my fingers, on my lips, trying not
to look up or back or out at the sea—
which could make you feel
small. I set my mind
on the details
so as not to think of the space
all around, or the bears that could at any time
emerge like bits of wilderness
               broken off, as shadows
gambolling in the noonday sun—dazzled and
giddy with the openness.

— from Juniper Volume 4, Issue 1