At Fort Egbert
In a field where weary soldiers once stood
breathing cold river mist at reveille,
I watched a woman and child filling
a large pail with strawberries as small
as the tip of the child's little finger.
She said they were brought to Eagle
over coastal mountains from Valdez
by a cavalry officer's young wife
who wrapped them in wet straw and burlap
when her steamer saild for Seattle.
She had found them deep in the woods
in ruts once cut by wagon wheels.
This story was told her by a woman
whose grandfather was stationed here.
The evening air was cooling as she spoke
with an accent slightly soft and Southern.
I knew the strawberries were wild.
A few were growing in my garden,
and I had seen them near the cemetery, as well.
Still I listened without saying a word.
Her story would comfort them when December's
gruel of thin light shivered in her daughter's spoon.
World Brimming Over
Brooding Heron Press