I dream of wild strawberries

I dream of wild strawberries sprouting between the cracks of my dilapidated porch. Crawling on my hands and knees, I’ve regressed as this house; boarded windows replace glass, can’t block the wind, the critters from slipping in at night, drawn to the dim light—a single lamp burns on my last paid electric bill. They snuggle in bed with me, finish eating the tattered sheets. It’s been days since the storm and still no relief, but I pry up the wood planks, splinters buried under fingernails. Fruit shaped like teardrops, the color of a summer sunset, red like the stop sign bent over backwards in overgrown grass. Seeds prick my tongue like taste buds; anticipation more satisfying than the bite. A sweetness that makes me forget the flood damage, the mosquitoes, the purple welts along my arms, the fever, the declined insurance claim, the spoiled milk and molded bread. A sweetness like Fourth of July cookouts, freshly mowed lawns, homemade ice-cream nearly melted on the spoon. A sweetness that saturates the mouth, reminds me of a lover’s kiss, tasting my own balm on his lips, transferred to the back of my throat for me to swallow—until I sink my teeth and wake in darkness, cold, with drool on my chin.

—Nortina

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