The strawberry advertised itself
early, already edible (if not truly
ready) in late May.
I’d already been warned,
monitored when on the patio
where the planters sat: Hands off!
Berries need time to grow, Gub,
and care, like this little red one;
in a month he’ll be ruby-rosacea,
with a white seed in every pore.
Always time, always care; too late
for the one I’d kept tucked at the back
beneath a blanket of young leaf,
tart and still with its crunch.
Next summer, secret-sick, gut-
knotted, I’d pluck myself completely;
for now, I wiped my fingers
on my jeans and passed the salt.
About the Author: Guy Elston is a British teacher and writer currently living in Toronto. His poetry has been included by The Moth, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Honest Ulsterman, Anthropocene, Rust + Moth and other journals. He was commended in the 2020 Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize.
Image Credit: Digitally enhanced illustration from Flore d’Amérique,. Paris, Gihaut [1843-1846]. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library Creative Commons License 2.0.