Elegy with Apples, Pomegranates, Bees, Butterflies, Thorn Bushes, Oak, Pine, Warblers, Crows, Ants, and Worms
by Hayan Charara
published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets
The trees alongside the fence bear fruit, the limbs and leaves speeches to you and me. They promise to give the world back to itself. The apple apologizes for those whose hearts bear too much zest for heaven, the pomegranate for the change that did not come soon enough. Every seed is a heart, every heart a minefield, and the bees and butterflies swarm the flowers on its grave. The thorn bushes instruct us to tell our sons and daughters who carry sticks and stones to mend their ways. The oak tree says to eat only fruits and vegetables; the pine says to eat all the stirring things. My neighbor left long ago and did not hear any of this. In a big country the leader warns the leader of a small country there must be change or else. Birds are the same way, coming and going, wobbling thin branches. The warblers express pain, the crows regret, or is it the other way around? The mantra today is the same as yesterday. We must become different. The plants must, the animals, and the ants and worms, just like the carmakers, the soap makers before them, and the manufacturers of rubber and the sellers of tea, tobacco, and salt. Such an ancient habit, making ourselves new. My neighbor looks like my mother who left a long time ago and did not hear any of this. Just for a minute, give her back to me, before she died, kneeling in the dirt under the sun, calling me darling in Arabic, which no one has since.