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Blackberries

Just when my hand tugs the bowing branch, and the berry bobs as if to say “yes,” I hear the faithful call from the distance: “Katherine!” I leap from the briars, distracted for only this moment; I know I’ll be back again.
Ripe, sweet berries grow closely on a stem into a perfectly round fruit that pops into a mouth. Cold, condensation sweats down each bead. My fingers slip as I pluck them onto my tongue. Sweet, ripe fruits paint the picture of summer for me, an essence of youth and a taste of childhood. My young, determined hands tear with imaginative fingers at wild-growing bushes. Each step brings me further into the brambles. With each snag on my shirt, I continue my journey, not letting the rips and tears pull me back, all the while coming closer to the one berry catching my curious eyes. There’s a prick in my arm, a smudge on my face, a branch in my hair, but I know I can get a little dirty.
Those memories leap from bush to bush while my hands grow wrinkles and freckles from the sun. I still spend hot August days wiping salt from my brow as it drizzles from my hand into the rich, Vermont soil. My grit as a wild-child has never left me; I still climb deeper into the blackberry bushes than the white tailed deer and the skittish black bears. “Katherine!” My mother’s call returns me to my yoga with the girls.
It was here, at the Windsor County Youth Shelter, that I came to realize these girls have their own brambles to experience. No adults reach out to them or give them a wrinkled, tender hand to hold. While finding sanctuary at the shelter from the harsh streets or grim days, these young girls are guided, educated and given a chance to experience life. Though the girl’s memories of youth will be tarnished, their ideals for the future will bud within the walls of the shelter. I know as I reach my hands out and embrace their palms, their cracked lives, the maternal hum and yoga chants trilling in my throat shows them that someone does care.
They reflect my body’s position in their own standing pose. While their breath echoes mine, our hands tangle together and my heart chakra grounds me. The yoga energy flows. I reach out to the girls, fingertips and toes extended, and give them the serenity they never had. What I have, a child’s spirit and strength, I’ll share with them. I’ll teach them that hidden in a callous world, harmony can be found in the chirps, crackles, and calm of nature, tranquility within their deep breaths. I let my spine curl back into an upward bow position, like willow branches entwined in muscles. The girls fold back around me. Our calloused hands grip the wood floors and feel the roots below us.





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