I find my voice.
I won’t have this anymore.
You call me junky tree,
scrub tree. You plot
my death. I came

without invitation
because I didn’t
need one. This was
years before you.

This was in
the time of ferns.

Tell me it was not.
Tell me if I’m lying.
Ask your children

to show you their
tongues. Are they not
purple? Secretly, secretly,
they pick up my fruit.

As do squirrels,
as do birds,
and butterflies
sip there, too.

And now I am
not welcome.
And now I hear
many curses

as I make wine
on the sidewalk—
and you, you walk
through it without
even stopping
to drink.





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25 thoughts on “Mulberry

  1. Mulberry trees! They are a strong set of childhood memories, but this poem gets to me in far more ways than just that evocation. “This was in the time of ferns” nearly knocked me over.

  2. Thanks, complynn! I ate many mulberries as a child and encourage my children to eat them, too — because, why not? I once read that they’re a delicacy in Iran and people from there think we’re crazy to let them rot on the sidewalk. I don’t know for sure that mulberry trees date back to those primeval forest times, but it seemed to give the tree some dignity. I did recently read that they support a lot of different species, so we should give them some respect. 🙂

  3. as I make wine
    on the sidewalk—
    and you, you walk
    through it without
    even stopping
    to drink… dang what a powerful close to this…love how you make the tree us its influence…works wonderfully as a metaphor as well

    • Thanks, Claudia! That’s the tree’s real sorrow — that it’s trying to give something but the gift is rejected. I did think about other times in life when that can happen between people, too.

  4. I adore mulberry trees and have several on my property. There is one that I cut down when I first moved in, but it came back, and i fell in love with it. It would horrify me to cut it, now. I watch its progress every day–it is near my side door–and it is more than welcome. There’s another next to my garage, and both of them are really big now, 12 years after i got here. I love them.

    • I’m glad you love them! I almost had one cut from the back of a butterfly garden I take care of, but then it made fruit and I was glad I’d let it stay. It’s not a bad tree after all. Do you eat the fruit from yours?

  5. its the last stanza that really makes this for me…adds the emotion and sadness…that they can just walk through and never really notice….there are some people…

  6. aprille says:

    Why, the silkworm’s friend. You can’t banish that!
    such an upmarket tree over here. And the fruit may not be brilliant, and the stains may be purple, but so are many other berries that birds find it necessary to ‘porcess’ on our paths 🙂
    No wonder it protests. And the silk worms. Get some cocoons and start spinning 🙂
    The berries make a lovely dye for the silk as well. I’ve done quite a few batches of that.

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