100 Olive Trees, by Maggie Harris

I am not a silent poet

They burnt the olive trees down to the ground;
aged trees that had fed and succoured generations
had bowed their branches to offer fruit, oil, shade from the sun.
Their roots ran deep into the earth – silent witnesses
to those who had toiled, tilled and planted;
spoke in tongues of comforting syllables, settled in the rocks,
travelled from place to place seeking a home.
Their stories are atomised in the ash now, crumbed as millennial dust
broken as morning dreams, dispersed as races.
Who realises the bitter irony of proverbs –
one does not bite the hand that feeds you
or the image of the olive branch as a symbol of peace?
No-one is listening now, not even the wind
whose only purpose it seems, is to fan fires
or at best, offer a cooling breeze.

Maggie Harris is a Guyanese writer living in the UK. Her latest collection…

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