Democracy

By Naomi Shihab Nye

The old farmer Mohammed Al-Atrash was standing in shock, speechless…

On the first day after the Eid, everyone out and about,
returning to school and work, but Israeli soldiers had a plan.

They brought massive forces starting at dawn, circled an area
over one square mile declaring it a closed military area.
Dozens of olive, almond, za’rur, and pine trees were destroyed.
For pictures of the corpses, see footnote 1 below.

Never mind, we will not include pictures of the corpses. Though stumps,
they are too big for the page. They scorch its edges.
We would like the trees to tell their own stories but
it is hard for trees to speak, once cut. What does the world know
of the tree-tender’s sorrow? How many places, how many years?

Before cutting a tree, anyone might hear
almond shells clicking into a bowl, olive oil sizzling in a skillet.
Leaves in sweet successions of light and shade speckling anyone’s face,
saying yes, you are lucky to be part of the esteemed human race.

(Indented sections from an email by Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Occupied Palestine, 2011)