chasing clouds I find
wild plums, poison ivy vines,
wild turkey feather
Chasing pink cumulus palaces hovering on the horizon above a green ocean of soybeans, I am arrested by a thicket that engulfs the low barbed wire fence on the narrow strip of land running between the field and the gravel road. Pacing the road, I get glimpses of the clouds through the tangle of branches and vines, but I want a bigger a window. Suddenly something small and pink dangling from a bare branch catches my attention -- a wild plum, and there are many more, in shades of red, orange, yellow and purple.
Looking up, I notice that the delicate wild plum trees are nearly overwhelmed by gigantic poison ivy vines with huge green leaves and clusters of creamy white berries mingling with the plums. I'm not happy to see a proliferation of this noxious weed growing along our road. Poison ivy likes to grow on the edge of things, and where the plants are not mowed down, they will creep along the ground, spring up into bushes and climb trees. They're not bothered by lack of moisture, so they've been especially lush and abundant this hot, dry summer. However, birds will eat the berries, without harm, so at least poison ivy is good for something other than its own reproduction.
I pick a few of the ripest plums, being careful not to brush my bare hands against the poison ivy leaves, whose sap can cause a nasty skin rash. The fruit is quite tart but refreshing, so I fill my pockets. Many of the fruits have fallen and are scattered on the gravel, some still pink and whole, but most are purple and broken open. It looks like something has been eating the ripe plums. I know that birds will peck at fruit and chipmunks and raccoons also love fruit.
While I'm looking at the smashed plums on the ground, I spot a long brown and black striped feather. Perhaps the plum eater was a wild turkey who left this elegant calling card among the red and yellow leaves and purple plums.