Cherries by Danusha Laméris

The woman standing in the Whole Foods aisle
over the pyramid of fruit, neatly arranged
under glossy lights, watched me drop
a handful into a paper bag, said how do you do it?
I always have to check each one.
I looked down at the dark red fruit, each cherry
good in its own, particular way
the way breasts are good or birds or stars.
Doesn’t everything that shines carry its own shadow?
A scar across the surface, a worm buried in the sweet flesh.
Why not reach in, take whatever falls into your hand.

Cherries

I have been listening to Danusha Laméris the past few weeks, as she co-hosts with James Crews a series called Poetry of Resilience, delighting in her delight with poetry and discovering new poems. There was a passing reference to this one last week, written some years ago, so I looked for it and now want to share my pleasure with you.

Be it Whole Foods or some other grocery store, have you not exchanged a brief comment with a stranger over some food you are both considering? I can imagine the woman’s how do you do it? curious to see someone take cherries by the handful when she herself feels the need to check each one. This then causes the poet to reflect on how each cherry, to her, is good in its own, particular way / the way breasts are good or birds or stars.

Such a generous perspective, that everything has its own light and shadow, that there may be a scar, a worm buried in the sweet flesh and it is all good. Therefore, Why not reach in, take whatever falls into your hand. Why not, she seems to be asking us, receive all of it, the shine, the blemish, no need to look only for perfection. Kind of like life, don’t you think?

Quote by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Even a wounded world is feeding us.

Even a wounded world holds us, giving us

moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy

over despair. Not because I have my head 

in the sand, but because joy 

is what the Earth gives me 

daily and I must return the gift.

from: https://voxpopulisphere.com/2019/10/14/robin-wall-kimmerer-i-close-my-eyes-and-listen-to-the-voices-of-the-rain/

Some of you will be familiar with Kimmerer’s outstanding book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Her writing is wise and poetic, full of rich quotes such as this one, as she shares her botanical and indigenous knowledge of the natural world, her beliefs in our interconnectedness, in the possibility of change.

There is so much contained in these few words – how a wounded world (and who could argue with that description?) is feeding us, holding us, giving us / moments of wonder and joy. Her response to these moments is I choose joy / over despair. Then lest we think her choice unrealistic, she explains that joy / is what the Earth gives me / daily and I must return the gift.

Every day she finds joy in the living world of plants, earth, water; she receives this joy with gratitude. And so in her world view, it is incumbent on her, on us all, to return the gift, to share it so that we do not succumb to despair for this wounded world. I am inspired by the idea of returning the gift of joy even in the face of despair. May you also be inspired.