Filling the Emptiness

If you listen, you can hear it,
a blackberry changing from flower
to berry, in the slowness

you can hear the leaves make oxygen,
like filling a low tire,
or a pinfeather breaking loose,

the still has different shades of quiet,
some potency, and then,
the words disappear

you have to lower the heart
like temperature, like a stone
in molasses, filling the emptiness.
~Martin Willitts Jr., “Sitting Still to Hear the Quiet” at Blue Heron Review

Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries~
–Elizabeth Barrett Browning in “Aurora Leigh”

the ripest berries
fall almost unbidden to my tongue,
as words sometimes do, certain peculiar words
like strengths or squinched,
many-lettered, one-syllabled lumps,
which I squeeze, squinch open, and splurge well
in the silent, startled, icy, black language
of blackberry-eating….

~Galway Kinnell  from “Blackberry Eating”

The hot days of summer bring a new stillness when I find it difficult to do even the basics each day. The air is sticky and so am I.

So I sit in silence, listening for the changes taking place around me as blossoms slowly fruit and once-bare thorny vines bear black gold.

What once was empty fills quickly.

I am filled to fruiting as well, finding no words to describe how life feels. I’m blinded to the burning bushes surrounding me, I forget to take off my shoes and pay attention to the holy ground beneath my feet.

Instead I sit and pluck blackberries, lost within myself, trying to fill up my empty spots when God knows He is sufficient.


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