Guarding Olive Trees

I haven’t been there,
but I’ve gone there
along the streams
of your words…

Grandmothers guarding
ancient olive trees —
guarding 500 years of
patient, spiral growth
down into the earth
and up toward the sun —
grandmothers are guarding them…
guarding them from
the teeth
of machines.

Yes, even today
they are ripping

And the grandmothers —
they know the true cost
of losing one of these
dear friends.


Just say it!


In this word lies
the heart of Palestine:
preserving lebni,
mixed with za’atar,
rubbed on dry elbows,
and on the skin
of a newborn child.

There are bonfires
in the bellies
of ancient olive tree groves,
keeping the stories

A branch lies carefully
in a dove’s beak,
carrying the message
to far corners —
plant this branch and remember. 

Listen closely dear friends…

The very blood in your body
relies on zeitoun.

Let’s not forget…

To learn more, please read this article.

December 2009 — Dedicated to my friend’s Danna and Sahar in Ramallah…  Zeitoun means olive in Arabic.  Lebni is mostly made around March, when milk is flowing again.  Basically, it is a sour cream that is formed into balls and preserved in olive oil.  Za’atar is a spice mixture of sumac, oregano-thyme like plant, roasted sesame seeds, and some sea salt.  It is customary to have this on flatbread and can also flavor about any dish…

2 thoughts on “Guarding Olive Trees

  1. >Thanks Danna… I was thinking of you and Sahar and this is what came up for me… I keep on thinking of the story you told me about your grandmother staying out in the country to protect her olive trees from Zionist Israelis. I feel your grandmother is making a powerful statement about the well-being of the land and the Palestinian relationship with the olive tree. As always, thank you for sharing your stories with me.

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