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Mulberry Tree

by Maham Khan


mulberry tree, now cut down,

my mother parted the branches and found

bits of black string tied to them,


wrapped around little pieces of paper.

it was her second and last marriage

and it was already falling apart,

six months in,

five months pregnant.


she unraveled the thread and had

the tree cut down. she believed in many

omens and she was often right.


a piece of string (to her) could

bind hearts and hold tongues.

the right spell could kill you.


the tree cast an afternoon shadow

that made my mother think

of the black eyes of crows, the running

water in the dark.


she was tossing in a sea at

the middle of an echo all her own,

flapping her giant wings, in a bleak

windless room that was her home.


so she prayed fervently with her

Qur’an. she nursed her first born, my sister,

and planted aloe plants and rose bushes. the front

bedroom was flooded with sunlight, the


mulberry tree now a stump for fakirs

to sit on. I grew older and mourned

our treeless front yard, no swing

to loop around its branches,

no shade for July afternoons.


Author-image-Maham-Khan1Maham Khan is a twenty-something Pakistani girl from Islamabad. Her poems have been published in Cadaverine MagazineInnisfree Poetry Journal and The Maya Tree Liberal Arts Review. She is studying English literature.
Image credit: © 2017 | Museerah Nisar