For Bev McQuinn

A decade gone, responding to my plea for thinning,
you dug canes with vigor,
creating welcomed roominess in my raspberry forest
and seeding a small grove of your own.

Every summer since then, you have blessed me with jam.

Including this one,
after which, very shortly,
you went:
your gut filled with an unwelcomed meal of cells.

We brought you food (without small seeds, please).
But, too suddenly, you were away.

The day I learned of it,
I found, in the refrigerator at work,
this year’s ruby gift of your labor.

This is the task you left to us:
eating the small-seeded sweetness
from the jar of your absence.

–E.A. Lechleitner
August 31, 2016