Mulberries by the road

Nature’s free gift of the north

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It’s a hard thing

I could be doing ten billion different things in ten billion different places, but here I am, trying to enjoy the most out of what I have up here
It’s a hard thing to do

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Chicken-broth like foreign scent and blinds

The rare subtle scent of something like mild diluted chicken-broth or a faraway whiff of miso soup does this to me. It took me years and years to figure out what this scent really could be, and up to today, I’m ninety-five percent sure that it’s related to meat; and most likely chicken. This rare, and what was once a welcoming foreign scent, takes me back to that new land that I flew into late into the night filled with excitement and hopes. Wonder shining from the eyes of a child who is looking towards the window; marveling at the engineering of…
blinds. And it also reminds me of the missed realities; like bloody chicken tendons and flesh, and aggression brewing in the kitchen from an aunt who really cringed behind her believable warm smile.

Now that I know now what I didn’t know then; can this foreign scent, once so full of hope and curiosity, ever become tainted?

 

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Greasy pizza

We were little kids who sat in the school cafeteria during lunchtime. The cafeteria special that day, as it was every other day, was pizza. I used to think that pizza was a big deal, but the school pizza really, really sucked. I had a friend from Botswana next to me and a friend from Korea across. The Botswanian friend grabbed her slice of pizza and downed it. She slurped that stringy white cheese and said it was good. I glanced at my piece of oozing pile of lump before me. There was hardly any pizza sauce in it. The cheese looked man-made; it was was white and tasteless. I turned it a bit and looked under it. The dough was almost white and seemed uncooked. The bread had little holes in it that made it look like a big soggy biscuit. Amid my dissatisfaction, I grabbed it by my hand and took a bite off its cold triangular tip. The cafeteria was white and windowless. It looked like a big gym, but when I had revisited it many years later, I found out just how tiny that place actually was. It’s funny how things appear so big and grandiose when you’re a kid. I somewhat recall what I was wearing; probably light blue jeans, white sneakers, and a sweatshirt. That was the type of outfit I wore pretty often during those days; although they weren’t of my preference. My hair was probably half tied in a pony tail with a colorful clip that had strings and charms on it. My skin was smooth and wheat colored. My grandma used to say that to indicate that I was neither light skinned nor was I dark. It never looked like I was smiling, but I was a pretty
happy little kid. I always wanted to be around people and have fun.
All around me kids ate their respective soggy pizzas.
This was a big deal to me.
It took great distance and a lot of effort to get here, but here I was, in America, making new friends. Kids were just kids, no matter what our skin tones were or what our cultures were. We talked to each other like the vacant vessels that we were. Empty, and so open. We were filling it, I was improving on my English. Such genuine friendships, such innocent jokes and real laughter. We finished lunch, I threw away my greasy pizza. That, I just couldn’t open up to. I headed back to class with hands in my pockets alongside my friends.

1994