On this day of renewal, when we celebrate the miracle of life emerging from broken ground — I offer you the tenderness of this poem by George McWhirter. May you savour, with a joyful heart, “the roughest, dearest sugar of the fruit.”

We all turn to sugar, paradoxically,
in the cap, where we have been twisted
hard, screwed on with a snap
by our mother or our father to keep
our love in, fresh, like the maple syrup–

as if mouths loosened with greed,
lips as curdled as the molten
pancake batter across the bevelled
skillet, drooling all around us,
could coax it out of the bottle.

But once love is gone, and this is all
that’s left–a brown rust stuck
around the rim, I am driven
back to lick the place
where sweetness scabbed the glass.

When we walked in the wood, it was June;
the salmonberry leaves were green,
their stalks slender
and ginger; the berries like
jewelled upside-down temples
raised to become solid vessels
for the light. They filled
with the dark worship of the ground–
this prickly vermouth in their mouths

vinted from the sour
sap of the salmonberries through
the lanky spigots rooted there.

I offered you six or seven,
a handful of plump prayers.
hoping you would look at me
and forgive, confer no more
with the conifers about my weaknesses.

I plucked one for myself and bit
into a whitened worm inside
and wondered why we could not always
savour our decay, eat into the corruption
where it has supped and gone granular
to become the roughest, dearest
sugar of the fruit?

–George McWhirter, On Pancake Eating at the Feast of St. John, from The Book of Contradictions