Elegy Pruning Blueberries

Lillian Emerick Valentine
| poetry


I could cut away. An
apparent. Dead thing. To
keep life I. Was farming
by frost. Fog. Endless
from over. The Coast
Range. Birdless skies. By
March. Staring down
a stand. Of Oregon
white oak. Willing them
to leaf. Late. Last winter
after. She +++++. I
was. Grateful for gray. How it
allowed. Me to crouch. Down
and. Cry. On my
knees. In three
pairs of pants. My short
-handled. Bypass loppers
at the place. Where plant
meets earth. Crying
like a dumb. Beast. My
hands huge and. Numb
in thick gloves. I
was +++++. I was. Building
a knot of the
pruned. Kept trailing
pieces. Home. Green
wood. My mind’s
own. Ceaseless
clumping. Of +++++. You
must remove. A third. Of
the plant. If you want
healthy fruit. In the
spring. You have to let
+++++go. By early
sunset. Brown mounds
of clippings. Marched
down. Rows. Near the last
day of winter. Her
birthday. March. As
children. I remember
we +++++. There
were years. We were. Like
sisters and then. Just
blood. This year I. Will
turn twenty- +++++. Older
than she +++++. By the
time. The blueberries
were ripe and. Stupidly
round. Their sweetness
sickened. Me. In every
dusted sphere. A girl
crouched. Crying. I had
removed my. Thirty-three
percent. But had
not. Let it go.

Lillian Emerick Valentine (she/her) is a poet and organic farmer from Oregon. She lives in Missoula where she’s an MFA candidate at the University of Montana. She received a Fishtrap fellowship for her poetry, which has been published in Ecotone, The Fjords Review, and other literary journals.

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