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Backyard Tree
Betsy Miller

The hard, hot summer sun runs away
Under fat, flat Mulberry leaves.
Fruitless Mulberry, my mother says.
Back in spring, fuzzy green almost-fruits
Like caterpillars carpeted the grass below.
The wide, cool Mulberry leaves, now bigger than my hand
Loiter on small branches, away from the trunk and main limbs
In a most considerate way, in my climbing tree.
The lowest limb, just the right height
With smooth, benign bark.
I lace my fingers together over the limb
Walk my bare feet up the trunk,
Swing my leg over and sit in the low spot,
The resting spot where you sit
The first time you climb.
The place you sit, before you know the three main ways.
Left leads to the blackberry patch
Sweet, ripe perfume, buzzing bees safely below.
Middle goes out over the lawn, ideal for spying.
Right curves along the house, a leafy bridge to the roof.
I drape myself across the lowest limb
Lay down my cheek, arms languid, legs dangling.
Barely-there breeze stirs my hair,
Sways me and my branch just a little.
Leaves tap together like rain.
This poem first appeared in Peeks & Valleys magazine.
It won first place prize for free verse poetry in the Olympiad of the Arts 2002.
Used here with the author’s permission.



Betsy Miller writes all kinds of things—nonfiction, fiction in a variety of genres, and poetry in a number of forms. She likes to make each story or poem different, rather than sticking to a particular genre or form. This flies in the face of practical career considerations for writers, but it's what makes her happy. Betsy lives in Silicon Valley with her husband and daughters, where she writes for high tech companies. Learn more about her here.



Post New Comment:
I had a mulberry tree like that! In late summer, cicadas left their exoskeletons on its trunk. I spent many an hour in that tree. Thanks for taking me back!
Posted 06/20/2012 01:47 AM
Larry Schug:
Good reminder that one does not need to stop climbing trees because of age! I really like the last verse.
Posted 06/19/2012 11:34 AM
Linda Muldoon:
I liked the sensual, yet childlike, images. Poor mulberry. I have one in my yard that does not have fruit and one that stains the sidewalk dark purple. I was told that there are male and female mulberry trees. The female bears the fruit. Maybe?
Posted 06/19/2012 11:20 AM
Very nice. This is a lazy summer poem, the way summer used to be. Phyllis
Posted 06/19/2012 10:44 AM

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