Poem: Sweet Theft


Sweet Theft

Early in the morning, the honeysuckle opens.
As a child, you drank it, tiny sips
of sweet perfection,
never quite enough.

You wandered along the woods’ edge, plucking flowers
and reaching in for blackberries,
the thorns cutting your arms,
the berries staining your fingers as they burst
in ripeness.

Somewhere, as a child, you decided the dark juice
was worth the pain,
the hundreds of tiny cuts,  you decided
the perfect sweetness of honeysuckle
was worth an occasional skirmish with bees,
and certainty that there would never be enough
to satisfy.  Never enough,
but always more, alway the promise of more.

And so today, as you walk the city streets
with your grey hair and tainted life,
you come on it, a stray spray of honeysuckle
climbing the fence of some wealthy stranger,
a counterpoint to the concrete and asphalt all around you,
an oasis to age,

And without thinking, you pluck a single white flower,
and sip,
the whole of your childhood flooding you
in this one act of theft.

About this poem

A couple of weeks ago I was in Savannah, Georgia and getting up early, I took a walk through the city streets, with its row houses and garden squares. In the back of the houses, you could see gardens, all of them small and groomed to “Better Homes and Gardens” perfection. Except one, which was running wild with overgrown shrubs and flower beds, and a single spray of honeysuckle climbed over the fences and spilled into the sidewalk.

My simple childhood, and the hours wandering and enjoying the honeysuckle and blackberries that grew there, washed over me.

And yes, I had to partake.


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