A Bone of Contention with the Ghost of John Lennon over Strawberry Fields Forever

last year I turned each unripe berry’s curve to the sun,
creeping through a single row; their red hearts and green
leaves dotted by starry blooms. they were few enough.
there was time for such indulgent care and contemplation.

this year with mother plants settled in rich soil,
the unruly daughters run amok by the dozens,
march-dancing fifty feet in and out of a quadruple-wide row,
their leaves in mudras of ecstatic hand jive,
declaring their wild passions.

i crawl on hands and knees, between berries and beans,
muttering under my breath, in contention with the ghost of
John Lennon and his audacious dream of Strawberry Fields Forever.
his romantic idyll has become my late spring curse.

i like his music well enough and am always willing to Give
Peace a Chance, but the concept of infinite strawberries
is appalling.  forever is married to everywhere.
eternity walks hand-in-hand with every arable spot of land.

in my garden those amorous red-hearted girls of spring
spread their juicy sweetness to the cucurbita, threatening
to swallow squash, pumpkins, melons and cucumbers.
we are already sated, our freezer filling, jars of jam stacked high.

did John Lennon ever fill more than a priceless Japanese bowl
with ripe berries?  did he arrange five of them with wabi-sabi aesthetic
on an antique Satsuma plate scarred by Yoko with a diamond drill
to make an artistic statement, while lying nude together in the fields?

did he ever ache in every joint from picking gallons a day?
did he wonder how to save them for winter and buy a food
dehydrator, stock up on canning jars and baggies, consult
cookbooks for shortcake and pie recipes with a twist?

oh, John Lennon, i’m sorry you are dead.  if you lived still,
i would invite you to my garden and let you pick from one
row of the ruby jewels, the red berries of passion and gorge
you and your love with sweet flavor for an afternoon.

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About the Author

Since 1976, my husband and I have lived on a hardscrabble, 40-acre piece of Ozark land as back-to-the-landers, a group of very determined people. We still garden organically and largely rely on ourselves and our community for entertainment and inspiration. I am also a textile artist working in a wide variety of disciplines. My memoir, BACK TO THE LAND: ALLIANCE COLONY TO THE OZARKS was published by Stockton University Press in February 2020, and my poetry appears in print and online.

Ruth Weinstein
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