by Elaine Reardon

They were heaven—sweet food from the fairy realm
I ate as we picked along the road
into the field where three sheep watched us
we picked into the woods at the swamp
The first time Mum and I picked blueberries I was three

Mum gasped when she stepped into the swamp
then wiped a muddy high heel in the leaves
I laughed at the silliness of wearing heels
looking back she likely just didn’t take time to change
when she saw how I took to these berries

The day she died I brought her homemade blueberry ice cream
dad said she wasn’t going to want blueberry ice cream any more
he sat at the kitchen table and she lay alone in the next room
I sat with her while breath rattled in and out
slower and harder each time

I pick wild sweet berries and eat bowls of them with thick cream
mix them with lemon and maple syrup for blueberry pie each July
far from home now in forest edge garden each year
I enter a contest with the birds to see who harvests the most
And I remember the first time


This poem was originally published in the author’s chapbook, The Heart is a Nursery for Hope, 2016, Flutter Press.


Elaine Reardon is a poet, herbalist, educator, and member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Her chapbook The Heart is a Nursery For Hope won first honors from Flutter Press. She won the Beal Poetry Prize (November 2018), and was shortlisted at the Hammond House Poetry contest. Most recently, Elaine’s poetry has been published by Crossways Journal, Automatic Pilot, Sleep-Z Journal, and several anthologies. Her website is