He’d sit in his old army surplus jeep,
parked up a rise so he might hear the Cubs
broadcast on radio from Chicago
three hundred thirty miles directly south,
as we picked raspberries in the summer sun
of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
We grandkids had to fill our metal pails
with just the plumpest, reddest berries judged
acceptable—swatting bugs, getting bit—
before allowed to climb back in his jeep
to catch the final innings of the game
if, with any luck, the airwaves reached that day.
Once my brother Tom packed his berry pail
with ferns, thin-layering the fruit on top,
and proudly claimed his work was done that day.
It fooled our grandpa; Tom heard all the game
as we picked and sweat and scratched and swatted
down in the berry patch all that afternoon.
That evening, Grandpa went to boil the berries
into jam. He found the boy’s deception
yet didn’t say a word. When morning came,
he let his grandkids sit up on his lap
and let us steer the jeep to town in turns,
except when Tom’s turn came he was denied.
We thought that only fair. But then we saw that
Christmas what our grandpa gave to Tom:
a case of jam close-packed in Mason jars,
a summer’s worth of berry-picking work,
a sweet reminder that forgiveness reaches
out like raspberries, free upon the bush.