The Meadow

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“Garden Portal” by Sarah Butler

Heat in the blackberry bushes
sweaty stained fingers.
Bowls fill and empty, berries turn
to mush against the gentlest touch.
My heart, easy in its shell
my hands full of overripe fruit
small insects eating sweetness.
I think of reading something, how
The oppressed do not write about meadows.
Do not know meadows.
Which politician was it,
who visited which island full of sweat shops,
declared it a petri dish of capitalism?
In the factories where the women live
behind barbed wire, where the women
who get pregnant are forced to have abortions,
the labels on the clothing say
Made in the USA. It’s an old story now.
Even my forgetting is a meadow
I lie down in.
The public library is asking everyone
to stick a pinwheel in the ground
for abused children, but tell me,
what good is another spinning thing?
My son asks which animal is nicest.
I say dolphins, sometimes they save people
from sharks. And sharks are bad sharks are
mean, right? No, it’s just sometimes
sharks think people are seals, their bodies
on surf boards. He is five. I don’t know how
to answer, Why does the prison have wires
around the fence? Why do people go there?
I tell him they are women, they are
someone’s mom. I think of the girl
who lived in the group home and whose mother
stayed in the prison across the street, knitting
a black blanket with a hot pink heart.
How proudly the girl smoothed it over her bed.
How another girl asked each day to walk
to the playground’s edge at 5:45
to see her aunt take out the prison trash
and wave. Are there bad people in there?
No, just people who made mistakes.
Will you make a mistake, Will you go in there?
How is it I can say I will not
go to prison? How can I explain
that we can have a picnic? We can take
the blackberries we picked for fun,
sit down in the meadow, and eat.

By Rebekah Denison Hewitt