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The Firmest Raspberries

by Marina Bessel, 17, Staten Island, New York

You asked me to paint you a picture.
I laughed at the cliche but asked you what of.
And you said: Anything.
As long as the Earth serves as the canvas
And succulent red raspberries the paint.

Remember when we took our clothes off?
After the berries collected in a hand-woven basket,
The firmest ones you had ever seen, you said:
How beautiful it will be to paint a picture,
A magnificent, natural creation.

Later that evening, we created the paint.
We stood, pressed together, in that raggedy basket
And one at a time, we lifted our feet
And stomped them back down, up and down, up and down.
Remember how disappointed you were with the deep puddle of red?
Not vibrant, not viscid, or deep enough, you said.

Remember? Because that's the last I remember.

Remember coming back to consciousness
Under the muddy boot of...thirty-five years the sheriff
And never had he experienced something so frightening.
Armed and ready, he let you stand, and you got to your feet,
Feet stained with a deep, bright red.

You gazed at the ground and spotted your creation and you
Remembered everything, and you were finally pleased.
The Earth before you displayed an arresting painting,
A viscous red pigment maneuvered into excellent designs,
So beautifully contrasted against the freshness of the brown soil:
Your natural, magnificent creation.

Your paintbrush had been a knife
And my body, your hand-woven basket.
There I lay: tattered, torn, raggedy
And you thanked me for painting you a picture.

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