He suggests going huckleberry picking - A Cerisse Cohen

and you tell him you’re worried you’d pick

something toxic. City girl: What do you know

about plants? He tells you he knows a couple

that foraged and ate wild onion (death

camas) accidentally. But what happened?

you ask. He’s given up booze, so now

he has ice cream and mixed martial arts

and you. They were fine, he says. Most

of these things don’t actually kill you.

“Fine” is not the same as “unscathed.”

If you know what’s bad for you, you can avoid it, he says.

You haven’t committed to giving up anything. So you have ice cream

and work and him.


The truth is, you kind of like getting sick

with other people. Your best memory with your mother

is when you both had food poisoning and threw up all night.

You couldn’t stop laughing. You’d never felt closer to anyone.

A death camas incident would be exciting

in a certain light. It would be a story. He fires

up his broken pipe and dried plant

blazes orange. Sometimes a piece

is just a piece and some berry is just a harmless

Huckleberry and his waterlogged field guide is just that.

He reads from the book about locoweed.

It’s relatively palatable, he says. Some animals actively seek it out.

It’s not hard to imagine. I’m sure they do.

 

A Cerisse Cohen is a second year MFA student and writing instructor at the University of Montana. She has published arts journalism in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, The Nation, The New York Observer, and other publications.

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