strawberries and fences

i wrote this piece with complete clarity and squinted eyes. my stomach churned and rose the whole time, detoxing and uncovering with every press on the keyboard. it’s never felt right to say they “crossed a boundary.” it never sounded like the story and i wasn’t sure why. then i found this awful and awesome analogy. i grieve what i lost and reclaim what i have.

early one morning last week i remembered i hadn’t closed the chicken coop gate and i wondered about my small strawberry patch. i know that when those berries turn red, they need to be fenced off. but ah, it’s too early for them. the chickens are kind and primal and know the natural order of things. they would walk on by. then like a vortex, my chicken strawberry wondering landed as clarity. with frozen body and whooshing in my ears, i know why it didn’t make sense to say either of you “crossed a boundary.” there wasn’t one.

just like there isn’t a fence. there doesn’t need to be one: the berries aren’t ready. no one would eat those underdeveloped strawberries. there is no need to pluck the flower petals or pull the leaves. no need to wiggle the roots or uncover a layer of dirt. the only thing those plants need are sun and water and space. deep earth to grow in, open air to stretch in, encouraging words whispered by passers by.

you blindsided me. you got there before i knew that someday i’d use the power of boundaries:  red grounding solid, orange desire chosen, yellow power practiced, green love for myself, blue voice strong, purple knowing.

you crossed the most sacred boundary of me before it was even there.

like the plot of land with a few strawberry plants and a clutch of chickens: the plants are safe while the leaves grow, the flowers blossom milky white, the yellow dust gives way to nubs, the fruit grows hard and green. and then when the green turns to white, the flowers drop, the leaves widen, the fruit softens, the pale pink turns to red…then the fence goes up. and i smile.

and i know it’s time to guard the berries as the leaves thicken and spread on their own, the stems stand tall, the flesh plumps, the juice turns red, as warm as the sun. and i will get to taste them first. and i will share them: dropped in white milk with a drop of honey, married with sugar getting even sweeter, divided and leaving a mark on everything they touch.

you got in before i even knew i needed a fence…tiptoeing through, acting like the sun, overwatering, plucking leaves, scratching the earth, rubbing the buds, leaving them exposed and seemingly untouched…i had no chance.

and now i’m growing more strawberries.