Peninsula Poetry: Gary Jones

compiled by the Door County Poets Collective

Poet Gary Jones taught English at Gibraltar High School and more recently freshman composition at UW-Platteville. He and his wife, Lu, summer in Door County and winter in Platteville. The Wisconsin Historical Society Press published his memoir, Ridge Stories, in 2019.

Picking Blackberries in the Snow

This could be a metaphor, I thought,
wearing my Sorels and buffalo plaid
as I stood in the light dusting of snow
picking blackberries, and recalling
my August childhood at wood’s edge
filling a lard bucket with wild berries,
my mouth purple from sampling them,
bare arms reddened from rakes of thorns,
and, before my fall, a garden of eating.

But I was no longer a boy, the month
October, and I was about to close up
the summer place, head south for winter,
now picking the last Concord grapes
and the first blackberries, misplaced,
as am I, locks gone hoary, a harvest late,
climate changing for fruit and man,
fingers cold, mouth closed to eating,
tracks traced uncertainly in new snow. 

Forest Bathing

We went for a forest bath,
Izzie and I, both of an age
in dog years, walking winter
woods, still in our collars,
water figuratively splashing
in the breeze, the tall trees,
a sensory bath, both sniffing,
both peeing, both pausing,
listening to a soft voiced
arboreal guide, visible only
to wannabe new-agers,
and a white-haired man
who’s walking an old dog.

Peninsula Poetry is a monthly column curated by the Door County Poets Collective, a 12-member working group that was formed to publish Soundings: Door County in Poetry (Caravaggio Press, 2015) and continues to meet.