The Mulberry Trees
by Theodora Goss
My daughter and I
found two mulberry trees
growing beside the path: one purple,
one white. When I was a child,
I said, on my way to elementary school,
I used to walk by a row
of mulberry trees, and each day
I would pick as many as I could,
pop them into my mouth,
until my hands were stained purple —
probably also my tongue.
That was a long time ago, I said.
But the mulberries reminded me.
The purple ones are deeper, darker,
more flavorful. The white ones
are milder, sweeter. You have to wait
until they are quite plump, almost ready
to fall off the twig. They should come away
easily into your hand. I eat them
completely, even the little green stems.
The problem with mulberries
is that the trees grow so tall, we can only pick
those growing on the lowest branches.
The ones higher up are eaten by birds,
squirrels. Which I suppose is fair,
considering how much we refuse to share
with them in our gardens.
But we were in their garden now.
The magic of mulberries is, they are too delicate
to sell in the markets. If you want to taste
the sweetness of summer, you have to stand
under the tree, reach up, pluck them
one by one from the twigs, staining
your fingers, and probably your tongue.
There is no other way
to eat mulberries, I told my daughter.
She nodded, not really paying attention.
She was reaching, picking, popping them
into her mouth, creating
her own memory of mulberries.
(The image is an illustration by Walter Crane.)