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by David Paxton

Hands muddied, we rooted through the forest muck
And shrubs pulling blackberries, raspberries, pricking
Our thumbs and forefingers on strawberry thorns,
Tiny berries ripe, easy to pluck
Because of their infantile weakness, and picking
The fruit, how we broke out of stacking stones.

Our hands bloodied from bracing those boulders,
And we, sick of it, our knuckles gnashed red,
Thick soiled goo clumping against our forearm hair,
Unpaid and little tended. Shrugging shoulders,
We bolted through the brush breaking twigs, our scarred
Hands healing, the forest fog veiling our stare.

We realized all too well that when we returned
There'd be less food and more rock, but we ran just
The same, opting to reside the next shunned nights
In the green, the rain and the stink. My flesh burned
With humidity and sweat; and when your chest
Developed, we escaped often to forests.