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LITERARY STYLE INSPIRATION: THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN

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ROLLING WITH JAMES JOYCE ON AN IRISH HILL

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ODE TO THE BOOKISH GIRLS

The story of our Mulberry tree

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We were always picking from our Mulberry tree, until the men would come to cut it down; then we would wait for it to come back the next season, breaking through the wooden floors and growing in the drawing room, in the library, in the dining room or in the hall.

We would always have tea near the Mulberry tree, us and all the owls that would come with the first signs of its reverberations under our feet. One season we sat on the floor of the hall and another time we sat on a pile of hardbacks in the library. We were always there, picking bags and bags of mulberries — donning thick coats and even thicker eyebrows, wearing our heavy necklaces and our gloves. We have spent lifetimes laughing with tea cups close to our mouths under our Mulberry tree, holding the bags on our forearms all the while and surrounded by the who of our owls.

We were never able to stop the men from cutting the tree down, and we never did watch, but we always longed for it to come back when the men would start the repairs on the floor of the house, torn by the roots of the tree. We would sit on arm chairs near the windows, watching time pass steadily by on the grandfather clock; waiting for the first few owls to queue at the window for us to let them in.

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