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Richard Ryal

A writer, professor, and editor, Richard Ryal has worked in marketing and higher education. He’s not as boring as that might sound, according to those who know him not as well as they think.


Look at the way some berries
save themselves from plucking with cutters and snags
to ensure they’ll have descendants
—berries we teach our children to pick carefully.
Nature’s urge to create unforeseen results
moves enormous interlocking needs
and satisfactions through the world.

Waiting for you to say something you can’t yet,
I rummage blackberries from the yard.
The juice is eccentric and your tongue needs waking.
Teeth of knotted twigs betray fat berries,
guide my hands, loosely circle my wrist,
scrawl an illuminated gospel in blood on my skin.
You pull back my sleeve and a berry
draws my teeth to your palm, back of my hand
a luminous stain, rose window.

Only the best feeders, in an elixir of appetite,
whose teardrop muscles pour their bodies forward,
only they get the rest they need.
The rest of us grow horns or armor, show thorns,
cunning, or speed. But you,

I love the way you look in my hat.

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