A woman floats on her back in the Sandy River under a rare Oregon sunshine. The layers of gray have given way to blue skies. The sun says to all the people below, “I’m still here!” She stays afloat with an occasional fluttering of her fingertips and, perhaps, some kind of buoyant dreaming. Growing along the opposite bank are thick and wild stream-fed blackberry bushes. The fruit dangles over the river. The underbrush rustles from waxwings and robins and meadowlarks that feed on the berries. The woman rises slowly from the water in her green bathing suit, noticing. As she carries no basket, she just takes a plump fruit and pops it into her mouth. She tastes fully, raising her shoulders with pleasure, and then reaches for another. With the sun warming her face and the water cooling her ankles, there is no craving for whipped cream for the berries, just the sweet taste of instant gratification. She is like a large water bird surrounded by the things that she needs. As she turns back to the water, you can see blackberry stains on her fingers, her lips, and her chin. The water reopens to her and washes her hands and face gently. She resonates joy like a laughing Buddha and goes to lie down on the sand; anyone watching has learned something without even having had a talk with the bather about her philosophy of life. The past is a phantom and the future never comes, or, perhaps—the fruit is ready; are you ready for the fruit?
Kirsty MacKay is a live storyteller who shares ancient stories from the Ohlone people of the South Bay. She has been writing poetry for roughly three decades while dealing with chronic issues of depression and anxiety. She considers herself to be a fairly recovered woman who remains, nonetheless, vulnerable. She also enjoys leading poetry strolls through parks, discussing the works of Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, and Alice Walker.