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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Fourth Row

            picking blueberries in Cross Creek, Florida

 

Rabbit Eye. They’s the sweetest.  Start

there.  She points, her arm like dried cypress.

 

If there’s pink on the belly, they ain’t done,

but you can take em if you want.  They’ll ripen,

 

just let em set out. I head to the fourth

row, two-o’clock in the afternoon,

 

ninety-five degrees, not a cloud.

This is fine work.  No sound but cicadas,

 

a thrasher, close by a chipping sparrow.

I reach for the fat ones in the small clusters, some pink,

 

some white, I’m after the midnight blue.  Never mind

the rattlesnakes, the fire ants.

 

This work in the heat of the afternoon

is what I imagine is Florida, is heaven.

 

Small leafhoppers follow me cluster

to cluster.  I was born a Yankee.  But my husband

 

a fourth generation Sanford cracker has a clean

line on his neck that looks painted,

 

splitting the dark plum color below his hair line from 

his t-shirt-white back.  How’s that? 

 

Some berries are as big as my thumb, bucketed

for pie or tomorrow.  The cicadas ring

 

high and long, like the siren of summer.

Someone cranks one up to my left, another’s

 

cranked further ahead.  I know I’m getting burnt

but I move from bush to bush, handful

 

to handful, bucketing each sweet, blue bead. 

I eat one for every two I bucket. 

 

The old lady wouldn’t be too happy about that. 

I take my metal pail in to be weighed.  How many years

 

in Florida ‘til you’re no longer a Yankee? Two-and-a-half

pounds.  Not bad, stained fingers and all.

 

                                               -Didi Gibbs 

 



Opossum

  

You hate the opossum that lives under our deck,

as each night he steals into the bird feeder

 

sifts through the seed like a miner looking for gold,

all the time keeping his squinty, crescent eyes

 

in line with the light escaping in a wild slant

from our back sliding glass doors.

 

You say we should trap him.  Cart him off

to some other yard to live under some other deck.

 

You say you aren’t buying seed to fatten up large rodents,

and I remind you that opossums are marsupials,

 

and you say it doesn’t matter, he’s ugly and you can’t

help but think he’s looking right at you

 

as you sit on the couch in front of the T.V. night after night.

You say you feel like he expects more from you.

 

Maybe he does. 


                                       -Didi Gibbs  

 



Tuck It In 

            for Tim Gibbs (1940 – 2006)

 

Your boots on the mud porch

stack like a Yankee layer cake,

but there’s no cake here,

sugar is too expensive

this year.  You settle for flat

bread, brains, some eggs

to help them down.  The song

playing in town steals

the words you want to say.

So in school you remember

to be good,  not to get

in fights,  to wear your best

shirt until it too is thread bare.

In the winter when hunger hits

hardest, remember they always say

that punches below the belt

don’t leave bruises.

So pull that belt up high, boy,

and tuck it in.  Tuck it all in.

 

                           -Didi Gibbs  

 

 

Exercise in Transcendentalism

  

You say the bear in this story represents all of my

problems, and what I do about the bear is how I handle

 

things like heavy traffic, a burnt meal.  What if I said I killed

the bear?  Stalked it while it clawed with paws as wide as your grin.

 

What if I snuck up on it, held my breath,

could see its fur matted with mud and dung? 

 

Could see, as I raised my hands, its eyes roll then clear?

Could see my slice of a face, my blue shirt, my gnashing teeth

 

all in its coin eye?  Could see you, hungry and steady

behind me?  Could see my mouth water just a bit

 

as the blade plunged past fur and fat feeling clean,

feeling meet, feeling right?

 
                                                             -Didi Gibbs