Poem for Palestine: As Far As The Eye Can See

olives-close-up_mini

In my previous post I wrote about just one of the many stories I heard and distressing sights I saw while in Palestine last autumn.

This is a poem I wrote the day before going to help with the olive harvest in a village called Deir Istyia in the West Bank:

As far as the eye can see

An olive tree ready with fruit
stands in the corner of the
cement-laid terrace.
There is shade all down one side
where wall meets wall.

I make myself small,
sit on an old foot-stool,
and eye the black olives,
the silver-grey-green leaves.
I spot a strand of hair,
white, freed from my head,
held now between two
stick-thin branches.

Lifting my gaze,
I look beyond the terrace.
More trees stand there,
grove upon grove,
as far as the eye can see.

Tomorrow we will meet
with the farmers
and go and pick and pick,
fill sack upon sack,
laugh and joke, talk and chat.

Sitting on the red-brown soil,
we’ll eat and drink and
rest in the shade,
as if the land were ours
– as if the land were theirs –
trouble-free.

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