Every girl should have a truck like Whoa Nelly
when she’s alone in the world—faded green Ford
that gallops downhill with a weeble-wobble and uncertain brakes,
and a column shift that falls out of gear going up the dump hill.
Load up the dogs in the back to drive up Garden Mountain
and if the pup falls out of Whoa Nelly,
it isn’t as far to the ground as from the new truck.
He’ll survive the lesson.
Hunt for the single berries; scent their wild purple tang,
taste only a few or the bucket won’t fill.
Pick for a July week berries to freeze for the year,
spend long dappled days, plucking them one by one—
One by one, lonely, round thud into the bucket
as leaf-pintoed sunfall shifts from east to west;
stop when there’s no more water
for dogs panting beneath Whoa Nelly.
One by one, fill most of one small bucket,
until the browsing deer has vanished to sleep in low thickets;
stop when a bear claims the better patch
and the dogs object.
A girl should have a bucket of huckleberries, braced on the floorboards
and be headed for home, one hand steadying the gear shift lever,
both feet on the brake,
dreaming of muffins and a bath. It’s all she’s got.
Published in “Standing” Poetry by Idaho Women 2003