Sweet Blue

On this tepid day

while the COVID clock ticks past

one-hundred-eighty-thousand casualties

we are digging shallow holes

into a Vermont hillside to lay down a line

of low-bush blueberries

the kinds with tiny, elusive

fruitlets encapsulating a burst

of tart sweet blue

like the ones I foraged as a boy

scratching my way along

coastal Maine ledges, not

those bloated soapy high-bush

globules offered up by the pint

as produce-porn in glistening

Whole Foods aisles, no,

on a solemn milestone day like this

what else could we do but think

small and particular, and imagine someone

someday reclaiming delight by popping

a perfectly taut, ripened berry

across teeth and tongue,

that sweet blue running out,

as Anne Sexton said, all the way

to Damariscotta and she, too,

must have once held out her kind

of hope for better times, but

beneath the thin sod

of this meadow, the earth

is dense with chunks of rock

and glacial tailings, so exhausting

to plunge a shovel into, however

we have no choice but to keep

plunging and sweating out

our line of holes, and I understand

that blueberries thrive in rocky soil.

Author Headshot

Robbie Gamble’s poems have appeared in the Atlanta Review, Pacifica Literary Review, Whale Road Review, and Rust + Moth. He was the winner of the 2017 Carve Poetry prize. He divides his time between Boston and Vermont.