Daphne Zhu

i remember the blackberries

they tasted like summer they tasted like 

together. four feet sprinting side by 

side, our mama called to us by the

fountains of dirt trailing behind

but we ran where no one 

could find us, your hand 

warm and tight and wrapped 

around mine, through the 

tangled vines that were our 

secret garden, just you and me, just

you and me. we laughed and 

i remember your laugh, like the 

twinkle of beads on string.

your fingers around the berry, black

as your irises, the same as mine. 

a twist and a pop and then 

you tossed it at me and my mouth 

snapped opened at the last second,

teeth splitting its tender skin. and

juice spattered your face, sweetness 

burst across my tongue.

we raced back from where 

we’d stashed the baskets, i reached 

and picked and picked but yours filled faster, 

i said it was ’cause you were taller,

you laughed and said it was ’cause 

you’d seen me sneaking every other 

into my greedy mouth.

and i said can we come back here again

like we didn’t do this every day 

of every summer i can remember —

they’re in a basket worn and faded

on the table. my fingers are cold

they close around one, a mass 

of pearly black beads.

it tastes like memory it tastes like 

tears, it feels like a photograph 

wrinkled and bled of color

i reach for another

and every last one

until the basket is bare. 

the juice that stains my lips

is empty of its sugar.

it lingers on my tongue 

it tastes like alone.