He kept chopping away at our mulberry tree.
First just the switches that spring straight up from the branches, then the branches themselves that produced such huge berries --
"All that mess with the berries," he said, watching the neighborhood's and our children file in, stained from their mouths to their soles.
Yes, we were purple each June, the side of the house purple-blotched, and inside bloodied rugs. Clothes were inked beyond any bleach from a raid up the forbidden tree.
"Other mothers can't be thanking you," he said. But I knew their kids did.
Guiltless, a pair of mourning doves dined, built a skimpy twig nest overhead, and each spring more mourning doves came.
I too filled my mouth with sweet fruit, and boiled buckets of berries for jam to appease him.
Leaves like green mittens in two veined dimensions shaded the house. New branches grew at the point of old amputations. Moths flocked in the moon till I dreamed of empires of silk.
He argued, "Look, those branches scratch up the car, that tree is upheaving the house, see, bricks push askew, the sewer strangles with roots --"
He sawed through the trunk. All that's left is the stump. All summer the house crouched naked and hot, all winter naked and cold.
He went away, and the doves. Such intemperate seasons have passed.
But now look! Shoots burst from the stump, branches grow, whole new trunk!
Each June new fruit fills my mouth. House and clothes all stain purple again. Surely the neighborhood mothers complain. The old car is scratched bare. The west wall is pushing apart. The sewer pipe split.
Will I ever wear silk? Will he ever come back? Is it all worth the risk? The mourning doves' nest is as flimsy as mine.
But my kitchen glistens with jars of dark jam, and the world is purple and green.