The Take

The Take: Anastasia Stelse

Anastasia Stelse

The Tree of Many Fruits

With the proper technique plums
may be grafted with apricots, peaches,
nectarines—any stone-heavy
fruit. The ripening flesh of forty

varieties scents delirium. Step
one: Find a stock tree that weathers
well. Step two: Wound it. Step three:
Tape new buds in the cut—

it will strengthen. This is perfectly
natural. See Egyptians, hieroglyphics, subset
trees. We’re practiced in the art
of manipulation. A man says what he said

was not what he meant—only a harmless
thing, a boy thing—and some, taken
with the sweet juices dripping over chins,
choke back the pit. I choke on it,

strain to strip each flowering branch
from the stock, show the tree for what
it really is: a cultivated disease, fed
by trauma too long ignored.

Author’s Statement

After seeing a tree grafted with different fruit branches, I was struck by that act of manipulation. The longer I thought about it, the more I saw how practiced humans are in the art of manipulation. When people don’t want to reevaluate their faith in someone, it’s easy to defend that person against their own problematic comments with words like, *it’s only locker room talk.* This poem explores the complicity in that reframing and associated silence.

From the Editors

“The Tree of Many Fruits” is luscious with powerful, memorable images. Stelse’s colorful language lures the reader, decorates deception through intrinsic use of metaphor, and finally leaves the reader thwarted with hideous evils. The delivery of this poem is also genius. The first few stanzas read stylistically as a manual, and then the tempo changes into a fluid flow of emotion.


By Grier Martin

Grier Martin has worked with Mud Season Review since 2017, as a poetry reader, associate poetry editor, poetry co-editor, and co-editor-in-chief. She is an active participant in the Burlington Writers Workshop and founded its Poetry Discussion Group, which she led for over a year. She is a resident of Burlington, VT and a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.