Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mulberry Tree

(Pre-Script: This poem is best read as the song, "The First Cut Is The Deepest" #65 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

I used to believe I would be pulled out of
whatever predicament in which I found myself.
I used to believe I could climb the mulberry tree in my backyard
to the highest branch I could reach
and free fly.
I would eat the berries on the way up.
I remember the sweetness.
There really is such a thing as a mulberry,
it's just that most of the mulberry trees around here
are fruitless
so I would say that most people
have stopped believing in such a thing as a mulberry
most people
have stopped believing in free flight.
but in my backyard, we had a mulberry tree
with sweet fruit,
and a lot of it,
and you could climb it as high as you could climb,
eating the berries all the way up,
then look over the fence into the yard of the guy
who kept homing pigeons
and raised rabbits
I think to skin, then eat, then who knows what he did with the skins-
such a peculiarity in the middle of a modern city
in the middle of the '80's.
On the other side of the fence you could look over and see
the backyard of the neighbors who's children tormented me,
or were my playmates,
one or the other,
from one day to the next,
and their yard was full of weeds
but then when they moved out, the new owners
fixed up the backyard and put in a back patio.
The new owners did not have children,
so there were no new tormentors or playmates living next door,
one or the other from one day to the next,
and if you didn't want to look over any more fences,
you could poise yourself just right,
and jump out straight, and feel,
for a split second,
like you were flying
as you free fell
right before you landed in front of where we sometimes grew a vegetable garden
where we sometimes grew the beans and carrots-
I used to believe I could fly or at least
I enjoyed the thrill of a very high fearless jump
because I was 6 and did not know what things I needed to fear in life
and that this fear could keep me alive
and unharmed
could keep me at least
from biting through my tongue and bleeding all over myself,
so bad I scared the neighborhood cat who was just taking a stroll across the backyard fence,
on the side of the yard
that faced no other backyards, just the street
since it was a corner house and lots of cats liked to congregate there-
I remember the face of that cat as I cried from the pain
and the shock
of realizing my teeth were through tongue
a place the teeth were never meant to belong
much like homing pigeons and skinning rabbits
in the middle of suburbia
in the middle of the '80's.


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