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MULBERRY TREE for Khosrov (This poem is dedicated to my paternal grandfather, whose life has been a source of inspiration for me. He is a true survivor, a builder, a patriot and today he is more beautiful than ever). By Shushan Avagyan This was his first tree planted in 1936, after the Soviets allotted a piece of land in the city, after the collective took over his family's house in the village, farmland and cattle, after his father was taken away as a kulak - the enemy of people Stalinists called, after his brothers' exile to Northern Russia: an orphaned youth seeking asylum from the bloody hunt of a system gone wrong. Urbanization, they said, is key to progress. But he had a penchant for his garden in the country, in Zangezur. This was his mulberry tree, caressed by the native tune, that withstood a treacherous WWII, the dark Gorbachev years of Sumgait, the blockade, no water, no electricity, no bread, people lined up for kerosene in Yerevan, his first tree - that let him cut off branches to warm up the house in 1993. Ninety-two years older he sits underneath a lonesome tree - hunched, but fulfilled in a post-Soviet Renaissance dream, reflections of a garden in his eye - the trunk has lost its thickness and the leaves are not so dense, but the fruit tastes the same white luscious sweetness on his lip subtle like the memories of the village mulberry wine. -- Shushan Avagyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia. She is currently working on her master's degree in English Literature, and is a recipient of the Dalkey Archive Press fellowship at the Illinois State University.