For Caroline

The blackberries ripen early this year. I leave the house
laden with boxes and bowls and find women combing
hedgerows and fields, berry lust deep in their eyes.

You ring to tell me they’ve harvested the eggs.

I visit shadowed places I’ve never been before
and stumble across dark droppings outside some animal’s den.
The air smells musky and unknowable. I run.

Meanwhile you sniff hormones, inject yourself.
At night a badger rampages through my dreams.
By day I snuffle my way through ferns and rotting grass.

Some berries are already on the wrong side of ripe.
Others have been annexed by a thin mucous veil.
These ones make my stomach turn. But still I cannot stop.

You will hear tomorrow if the eggs took.

Next morning I get up. In the mirror I am a foreign creature,
dark-eyed and wild with berry fever.
A deep white stripe cuts through the centre of my crown.

My lips are stained dark purple. My nails are ragged claws.
I smell the berries souring, in the kitchen, on the floor.
There are berries everywhere. There will never be enough.