Helen Dunmore

Image by Caroline Forbes

Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries

What I get I bring home to you:
a dark handful, sweet-edged,
dissolving in one mouthful.

I bother to bring them for you
though they're so quickly over,
pulpless, sliding to juice

a grainy rub on the tongue
and the taste's gone. If you remember
we were in the woods at wild strawberry time

and I was making a basket of dockleaves
to hold what you'd picked,
but the cold leaves unplaited themselves

and slid apart, and again unplaited themselves
until I gave up and ate wild strawberries
out of your hands for sweetness.

I lipped at your palm -
the little salt edge there,
the tang of money you'd handled.

As we stayed in the wood, hidden,
we heard the sound system below us
calling the winners at Chepstow,
faint as the breeze turned.

The sun came out on us, the shade blotches
went hazel: we heard names
bubble like stock-doves over the woods

as jockeys in stained silks gentled
those sweat-dark, shuddering horses
down to the walk.

from Out of the Blue, New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2001), © Helen Dunmore 2001, used by permission of the author and the publisher


Helen Dunmore

Helen Dunmore Reading from her poems

1I owned a woman once

2Glad of these times

3City lilacs

4Wild strawberries

5Extract from translation of Piers Plowman

6Bristol Docks

7Jacob's drum

8Those shady girls

9A cow here in the June meadow

10In the Desert Knowing Nothing

11Poem on the Obliteration of 100,000 Iraqi Soldiers

12Dolphins whistling

13The grey lilo

14Patrick I

15Mr Lear's ring

16The butcher's daughter

17That violet-haired lady

18To Virgil


20The sea skater

21Three Ways of Recovering a Body

22The surgeon husband

23The Silent Man in Waterstone's




27The Deciphering

28May voyage

Books by Helen Dunmore