Blackberry Memories

We’d fill our buckets to the brim—
__my brother, sis, and I—
and rush the juicy berries home
__for Grandma’s cobbler pie,
our oatmeal, or for Mama’s jam—
__sweet scenes from days gone by.
Those berries came to mean much more
__than something good to eat.
They symbolize my innocence
__before I was to meet
the complex workings of this world.
__Not all of life’s a treat!
Today I smile and spread my jam
__on lightly buttered toast.
My sometimes-friend nostalgia’s come
__to play the welcome host
of memories of childhood days,
__the ones I relish most.
Janice Canerdy is a retired high-school English teacher from Potts Camp, Mississippi. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications: anthologies by Quill Books, Mississippi Poetry Society, the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Poetry Soup; journals and magazines: Society of Classical Poets Journal (and online), The Hypertexts, Halcyon Days, Light, Westward Quarterly, Lyric, Parody, Bitterroot,   Lighten Up Online, Saturday Evening Post, Penwood Review, Better Than Starbucks, Poetry Quarterly, and LIVE (by Gospel Publishing House). She has had one book published: Expressions of Faith (Christian Faith Publishing, 2016). She is the President of the Mississippi Poetry Society, Inc.

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31 Responses

  1. Paul Martin Freeman

    I really like your poem, Janice. Its simple, “sweet” sincerity and artistry finely balanced. Utterly charming.

    Would there were more poets who could write like you!

  2. Paul A. Freeman

    Sweet! Especially for one of the generation that went blackberrying.

    I read a poem about blackberrying by Seamus Heaney a couple of days ago. Your memories are happier ones, Janice, which has cheered me up no end.

    Thanks for the read.

  3. jd

    A lovely poem, Janice. Reading the title, I thought you might have given up a smart phone but the accompanying graphic told me otherwise. In any case, I really enjoyed the reading of your beautifully crafted memory.

  4. Sally Cook

    Simply sweet, evocative of the time when families worked together and children helped their mothers. Thanks for the renunnder,

  5. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Janice, I remember blackberry picking and even wrote a song about it. The simplicity of those happy times and enjoying the memories while continuing to eat blackberry jam is reflected in your sweet poem.

  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Janice, your lovely ‘Blackberry Memories’ have stirred childhood memories of my own… memories of warm, homemade orange marmalade on hot, buttered toast after a chilly train trip to my aunt’s house on a foggy London morning. I particularly like the line ‘My sometimes-friend nostalgia’s come/ to play the welcome host’… nostalgia has been a very welcome host this morning. Your poem has given me a delicious taste of childhood wonder… thank you for your smile of a poem!

  7. Cheryl Corey

    What a lovely poem to read on a Sunday morning. Simple pleasures and simple food are indeed the best.

  8. Mark Stellinga

    Janice, I can see the berry bush – hear your mom and grandmother thanking you – and even smell and taste the nummies they were used for! What a wonderful piece. I’m headed for the fridge & toaster asap… 🙂

  9. Linda Alice Fowler

    Janice this is charming and adorable. Sweet memories live in so many niches of our lives and you have dressed this one so sweetly with those of places, things, and people you love!

  10. Alena Casey

    Heartfelt and thoughtful. I do love berry picking but I’ve never tried making jam. It seems to be something of a lost art. But the thought of buttered toast and jam sure makes me want to try!

  11. Margaret Coats

    Janice, you carefully layer past and present, taste and thought, to create this treat of relished memories.

    • Janice Canerdy

      Margaret, I will try to write a poem as lovely as your comment. Thank you so much!

  12. C.B. Anderson

    Very nice, Janice. I used to grow blackberries — a thornless variety, which is probably cheating. I would encourage you to read Richard Wilbur’s “Blackberries for Amelia” to get a different take on a similar idea.

    • Janice Canerdy

      C.B., thank you so much for your response. In this case, I would say cheating
      to avoid pain is okay! 🙂

      I will read that poem. Thanks for mentioning it.

  13. Enid Cokinos

    This is a beautiful poem and reminded me of picking berries with my mother on a perfect summer day as a child. Thank you for the memory.

  14. Robert Zimmerman

    Hello Janice,

    I recall reading your poetry on FS a few years ago. I was there for three years. This poem struck me in as much as I grew up in Appalachia and often devoured blackberries from the wild bushes overlooking the strip mines. Your poetic style of ballad here is done perfectly with pure meter and exact rhymes. I admire poetry that sings to me and draws beautiful mental images made by a verbal paintbrush. The poem is enchanting, and the memories are long established. I’m glad I read this one. I never managed to get the blackberries home to Grandma. They always disappeared by the time I got back.


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