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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 3, September 2014

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Jackie Maugh Robinson
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA


Family Tree

I’m five. Summer sweltering. Hard to breathe the humid air. Insect swarms. Dogs snoozing on the grass. The mulberry tree outside my grandma’s kitchen door was ancient when her mother was a girl. The heavy scent of hanging fruit makes me hungry. I ask to pick mulberries for dinner. “Yes, if you say please.”

Dad lifts me and a big tin pot to the lowest high branch. There’s love in his smile and hundreds of plump prizes within my reach. Humming while I work, I can see my parents and grandma laughing around the oilcloth-covered kitchen table.

cool leafy shade—
the sweet perfume
of expectation

After an hour I call to my dad. I trust him to catch me when I jump into his arms. Tired and happy, I bask in grown-up praise. They must be proud of me: “So much picked for such a little girl!” Big grins on everyone’s faces. Mom is giggling.

Time for dessert. There’s apple pie and, of course, my beautiful berries. Grandma puts a bowl of the fruit in front of me and pours a glass of cold milk. I don’t notice the silence or everyone’s eyes watching me. I spoon two great berries into my mouth and begin to chew. They’re terrible! Not sweet at all. Not even sour. Just a sticky blandness. I see my parents and grandma looking at me just before I make a face of disgust. That’s when they start to laugh. “Oh, Honey, NObody eats mulberries!”

moving van
a box of mementos
grandma saved for me

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