Ripen

One day while picking berries I
asked my dear mother why we die.
Her answers did confuse me.

“We’re not unlike these berries, see.
Come, watch me pick the dark ones clean
and leave the green to ripen.

Now you are green and bitter, child,
but someday you’ll be sweet and mild
and Death will come to pick you.

The juice in you will break and flow.
Who knows then where the skin will go?
and you’ll be lapped-licked-swallowed.”

“Lapped, licked, and eaten!” Aghast, I
stared at my mother, who grinned wide.
“Why can’t we just stay berries?”

“A berry left will spoil, lie
upon the path and attract flies.
I’d rather be well-tasted.”

“But what a grisly end to meet!
with crunching bones tween jagged teeth.
Death sounds like such a monster.”

“You’re not alone in that conceit,
but that is not the point, my sweet.”
Her hand lay on my shoulder.

“My son, take heed! The berries mind.
Take care to ripen till you die,
and dying, leave yourself behind.
Surrender all your sweetness.”

Finished yesterday, 27 January 2013.
This is the first poem that I completed piece by piece instead of coming up with the whole thing more or less at once. I’ve been working on it off and on since last November. Constructive comments are appreciated!