The year gave another shake, a shrug
that slipped into September's sharp-edged sun,
ripened plums to drunken mouthfuls
and fattened brambles on the bush.
Each year we'd take a basket, woven wicker
(darkened twists of long dead trees),
pick with greedy fingers berries
that would stain our hands with their heart's blood.
(Later, this would leach through sugar
in a copper crucible like alchemists of old) but for now,
summer's distillation left a sweetness on our lips, and this bitter pall:
the berries that are best are always out of reach.