Wednesdays go like this: I leave the house early for my DreamWeaver class at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) on 23rd and Lexington. After my four and a half hour class, I take the subway back uptown to 125th Street in Harlem and work-out at the gym. Then I walk 14 blocks home, usually stopping along the way at the bank and/or grocery store. At home I pay the nanny, make sure Ike is fed, and load the stroller with toys and snacks to get us through Presanctified. The church is a 10-minute walk, and Charles meets us there at 6:30. Half way through service I stroll around the neighborhood with Ike and place a take-out order at one of the Chinese or Japanese or Thai restaurants in the area. I return to church, put Ike in his PJs, take communion, and then head home, picking up our take-out order on our walk home. I have gotten so used to this schedule that I am sad that next week will be the last Presanctified service of Lent.
All this has nothing really to do with the poem I'm posting today, except it may explain why I am posting another Plath poem with little ceremony. My Wednesday schedule, added to the fact that I didn't write my post on Tuesday night, leaves me here, at 10:15 pm on a quiet Wednesday evening, with Blackberrying.
And it is a poem I love. In its fullness and its sadness: the lushness of the green hills and the cold metallic expanse of the sea. I suppose it's no stretch to say that the sea is a metaphor for death, just as the ripe berries are a metaphor for life.
B L A C K B E R R Y I N G
Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.
Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.
The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,
gapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me
To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.