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Ode to the Mulberry Tree In Our Front Drive

By Angela María Spring

Albuquerque, New Mexico


Though the jam did not set, great chunks of purple-black in jars
               placed as offerings behind the kitchen counter butcher block

               homemade experiment by my Central American-born mamá, who warned
                               us to keep a stern eye out, said you invade, take over swiftly

and she was right as our desert—so unlike the humid, temperate climes from which
               you first emerged—urges you grow fast to claim any water to be found,

               yet as a tree you are migrant/immigrant like us so of course Tucson
                               banned your presence as Arizona pulled Latinx books from schools

still, we are grateful for your summer abundance, boughs bowed
               down, heavy with fruit and my husband tells a story of his kin

grandmother who grew up with less than nothing in a dusty well
               in Texas, then married a banker and fried chicken like heaven,

                           baked pies with fruit harvested from neighboring trees but though
                                          their own drive was lined with tall mulberries, she never bore

this ample crop to her kitchen, instead the poorest children climbed up
               their multitude of branches, feasted until hands and faces were stained

                             black with the relief from hunger that day; I understand, who wants to
                                            hold the memory of hollow bellies and if I could shake each tree

               down into the mouths of mi gente who survive the desert and river to crawl
                             right into a freezing prison cell or our other cousins in California

who work fingers bloody picking through thorns, no bathroom breaks, corralled
               in broke-down trailers, niñitos playing in fields scorched by hundred-twenty

              degrees and now in the Rio Grande Valley the true invaders demand the farmers
                              hand over their exploited workers, Texas loves their white vigilantes

they want war with those who remember the Alamo/land as it once was
               because we do, we remember everything, passed down through our veins,

               blood mixed but not diluted, still stewards of nuestra tierra, culled
                               by colonizers, so I praise each berry plucked from your branches,

those left for the bushtits, doves, and countless others carpeting our dirt drive
                endow thirsty earth, bendito mi arbol de morera, we reap so we, too, shall thrive




Listen as Angela María Spring reads Ode to the Mulberry Tree In Our Front Drive.

Added: Friday, August 11, 2023  /  Used with permission.
Angela María Spring

Angela María Spring (she/they) is a poet, journalist, and founder of Duende District, a pop-up boutique bookstore sin fronteras for and by people of color, where all are welcome. She is the poetry editor of The Washington Independent Review of Books, holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, and her debut poetry collection, Desmadre: Poems, is forthcoming from FlowerSong Press. Their poems, essays, interviews, and reviews appear in A Public Space, the Slowdown Podcast, Electric Literature, LitHub,, The Night Heron Barks, and Muzzle Magazine, among others. You can find her on Instagram at @amw505.

Image Description: Angela María Spring, a non-binary femme with short brown hair and light tan skin, holds their hand to chin. Wearing large black-framed glasses, red lipstick, and a black long-sleeved top, they sit with a tall window frame behind them.

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