The Last Red Berries

photo of nightshade with red berries in the snow
The Last Red Berries

What gentle lesson I learn from this nightshade,
unwanted in its habitat, its toxins legendary,
growing as it is from a crack in the pavement
no other greenery but itself for comfort,
facing unprotected the wind and cold and precipitation,
yet gracefully spreading tangled limbs and
offering its berries to birds
who tolerate its poison and disperse its seeds,
and patiently waiting for spring.

Surely in all this, we can find a friend, if we can be a friend.

The sun illuminates the red nightshade berries,  visually shocking in their brilliance, as the vine stretches gracefully to both sides like a reclining figure before the stolid block pillar and squared garage doors. Still, I’ve walked down this alley before and not seen it; the reflected light from the snow must have given the berries that extra boost, and the snow itself seems to underline the sprouting vines.

All that for a weed—or at least an invasive perennial vine that is mildly toxic.

Poem, The Last Red Berries, © 2010 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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