Kate Bluett
The mesquite is not a tree
although it can be climbed.
There was one on the playground,
and the pretty girls claimed it for their own.
They laughed among its leaves of lace
while we less-favored
sweated in the sun.
No, it's really a bush.
Prairie fire and summer drought,
left unfought,
would burn the young shrubs out.
Our parents ran the sprinklers in the drought
for house pride and our amusement.
We could not play barefoot in the streams;
the greened grass hid last autumn's thorns.
It flourishes, however,
and is never felled—
the cows won't eat it,
and the wood won't build.
We cultivate it.
My first boyfriend trod on a thorn
while walking in the park where we so often
never left the car.

Like a scab on the earth
it festers,
and we disfigure our homes
with its rough bark
and twisted limbs.
Its roots are in me,
as much a part of home
as the wide sky
and the summer heat
and my family gathered in the house I grew up in.
My world is riddled with its thorns.
Pity us,
for we rend ourselves
with misplaced affections.
Thin spindle-fingers writhe,
groping heavenwards
with the weight of inch-long thorns.
Mercy, they tell me,
mercy on us,
for though we are wicked we know
that Jesus lived and died for Texas.