I waken early to watch the rise of Venus.
She is already waiting for me, poised
in the late summer sky–
flickering at the edge of
indigo blue and brightening light.

I have brought her chokecherries that I picked on the path by the river —
an offering of gratitude for the unexpected
gifts of this coronavirus summer.
(They were eager to be taken,
luscious and heavy —
their generosity bowed the branches
so they almost touched the ground.)

I lay the berries on the earth
and whisper a prayer to heal the hearts
of those who feel unloved and lonely.
A testimony
that even bitter fruits
grow sweet when ripe
and spread the seeds of love.

*************

Robin Wall Kimmerer writes in “Braiding Sweetgrass” that the Potawatomi word for giveaway is minidewak which means “they give from the heart.” Min is a root word for gift and also the word for berry. When plants offer up their berries something beyond gratitude is asked. They trust that we will disperse their seeds to new places to grow. They remind us that all flourishing is mutual. “We are bound in a covenant of reciprocity, a pact of mutual responsibility to sustain those who sustain us.”