Fruit Withheld
Suzanne Ondrus

Grandfather I didnít give you any blackberries this year.
I withheld them for myself.
The plump ones went right into my mouth.
Oh, if I could so easily punish you—
for all the thorns you pushed in, that I canít extract
even while Iím entwined in my loverís black arms.
Now donít go falling in love with any darkies.
They all hang, full with juice.
Itís too late. My hands are purple and Iím leaping
from sugar highs.
A pierce, a pinch—
Whatever you do, donít come back with a black husband
And here I am two years with dark glistening
and I want to poke up through the snow,
unfurl my leaves to bear black fruit.
But there are thorns, even inside of me.
Arenít those nigger babies cute?
She lightened up and you canít even tell.
When girls go with blacks, they let themselves go.
And so the berries hang, from their little crowns,
and so it hangs, like thorns over lunch:
Ruth had a cousin once,
married a Negro, the family cut her out.
Had a cousin once.
Blackberries bloom only once,
bear fruit and then they die.
And the only ripe color is black.
Grandfather, Iíve waited my whole white blooming life
for one man to sow a seed,
and yes heís black.
Together we are a solid strong stalk,
one that can endure winters with thick wet snow,
that will bend us to the ground.
Twined together we will resist.
But Grandfather, Iíd still like to feel your hand
against my cheek, and sit together
watching the white flowers bloom,
and expand beyond the limits
of taut skin.


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