Height and Shadow


The mulberry in front of the kitchen, up the first pathway into the hill of the backyard, had — in my youth — grown as a bush, its bowing limbs reaching down toward the ground and bearing fruit. When I was impatient I’d pick even the tart-pink berries, not waiting for the wine colored clusters to mature.

But now it reached upward, competing with the pine tree behind it, unclear if it would offer its fruit to the groundward reaching customers. When exactly had it become a tree, I wondered.

That pine, planted out of a quarter gallon paper milk carton given to me by the volunteer firefighters in my afternoon kindergarten, nearly three decades of height and shadow casting down as its main fruit, had grown perhaps too tall to avoid its lesson.

I could plant another tree somewhere along the property, if I wanted, imagining a future full of shade, perhaps ash.

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