The Tree of Forty Fruits by Celia Daniels

Begin beneath a plum tree. Balance a knife in your hand and press the blade against one of the younger branches. Reveal the plum vascular. Bring out your tape and introduce the sugar sap to a cut of peach, just as young, just as pretty, just as weeping. Bind the cuts. Step away. Don’t watch; this act is intimate.

If the bind succeeds, then your plum tree is no longer a plum tree. Binding creates unity: it will be pits against pits when summer comes.

Dance your knife through an orchard of fingers. Cut through cherry. Bind again.

Repeat this process and watch the bark of your plum tree stripe itself tart, sweet breaths refuting singularity. Blood melds with blood and runs green with chlorophyll; family based in genus becomes family in proximity.

Wait for spring. Watch dormant buds wake, form whorls of purple, white, pink. Clear petals away from the rootstock; leave your knife folded up in a pocket of your jeans. Sweat as the flowers swell. Pick the cherries first, when they form, nipple-red and gleaming. Follow with the plums. End when the summer offers you peaches.

Repeat this process. Pull your knife away from an open wound and recognize the sweet xylem that pools between your fingers. Bind again. And again. Build for yourself an unwieldy heritage;a tree of foreign branches that stem from the same root. Mark the colors as they change: pink, green, red, brown, until it all turns green again.

Settle yourself beneath the plum tree. Let it clothe you in Joseph’s coat. Is it possible that trees can be so yielding? Remind yourself: “yielding” is “compromise” disguised as “giving.”


About the author: Celia Daniels received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Indiana University Bloomington in May 2017. Her work has been or will be publishing in Road Maps and Life Rafts, Entropy, Magic Jar, Claudius Speaks, Timeless Tales, and 11/9: The Fall of American Democracy. 


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