by Nancy Devine

Did my father,
when he had lymphoma
in the last year of his life,
travel down and up that roadside ditch,
a clog of long grass and thistle,
to join my mother and me
as we picked Juneberries,
his drop-foot an obstacle
but not the end?

It could be lies:
my father strode to a small,
low patch of berries,
his uneven gait iambic,
at worst a near-stumbling syncopation.
He bent toward a bush,
the purple fruit
sweet and almond-flavored,
each separate
on a setting of green.
There he picked and ate.
My father really ate
like there was no tomorrow.

Nancy Devine teaches high school English in Grand Forks, North Dakota where she lives. She co-directs the Red River Valley Writing Project, a local site of the National Writing Project. Her poetry, short fiction and essays have appeared in online and print journals.