Ripened – by Rebecca Dempsey

Rainbows arced under sprinklers. Droplets whisked
into the air with a chu-cha, chu-cha, chu-cha. Falling
drops dampened dark topsoil. Hard water pumped
from deep underground, freshened thirsty strawberries,
as pickers sat squat in the dirt, sunscreen smeared,
sweat stained under wide brim hats. They laboured
cash in hand. No questions asked. Antipodean Van Gogh
workers in sunglasses and neon. In the background:
chu-cha, chu-cha, chu-cha the sprinklers continued.
My mother picked for a season, pulling ripe redness
off straggly parallel plants, she was careful not to bruise
as she burnt, but went steadily following low mounds
of wilting greenery, miniature Nazca lines to aggregated
desert deities. I see it so clearly, a memory overlayed by
memory, brought up from where it too was buried, like
that water calcified with time, yet, temporary. Decades on,
I know I didn’t realise how bitter sweet thoughts of
Saturday morning haze could become. But still she shone.

Rebecca DempseyRebecca Dempsey is a writer living in Melbourne / Naarm. Recent works have featured in The Ekphrastic Review, The Primer, Suddenly, and Without Warning. Rebecca can be found at