Mimosa has claimed the blue-
berries, along with the birds
and the sumac and the neighbor’s
cat, her infants coddled
between the fetal branches.
Mother tells me it’s fine, and we look
at the bush through our windows.
I went to pick berries but Mother
came running down the hill, her arms
over her head. I looked down,
and there was a yellow jacket nest.
A scene of a burning school house flickered
on the TV, and Mother jumped to cover the screen
with her body, as if trying to bear the cross of flames
into her own back instead of my eyes. It’ll be alright,
sweetie! she screamed over the soundtrack,
her smile quivering in her own uncertainty.
Sometimes still when we watch tv,
I’ll find Mother in her recliner, hand
over her eyes, turned towards the fire place.
My father gives me hedge-
trimmers, tells me to tackle
the bush with all I’ve got.
I climb in with flip flops
and headphones, trying to make sense
of all the sources of dissonance—Mother wants
to see my hands, does not eat the blueberries
until they’ve been washed and lathered
many times. She tells me it’s because
of the birds, but I know
there are other reasons.