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Olive trees

There is something very
Foreign about olive trees.
They do not talk to me like
Fig trees, oak trees,
Strawberry trees which all
Have something to say even
If it isnít especially friendly.

An olive tree is a stubborn
Silver-haired crone who
Rocking to a rhythm unheard
Gazes through this world
To another and hides
Her real self behind
A skin of shadow.

There are no thorns and yet
The twigs are dry, rebarbative.
They do not vary; do not have
That seasonal vulnerability so
Endearing in deciduous trees
Nor the coniferís candle-like
Renewal of fresh tips.

And how was the fruitís value
Ever discovered under such
Outlandish bitterness? Thrice removed
Harvest, press, combine it taunts
With difficult conversion; ripens
When the weather is at its
Harshest and least predictable.

And yet these hills are grey
As ocean swells with olive groves.
Their rituals are in the blood
Of every countryman.
Planted in rows and pruned
For yield, to him they
Never were a mystery.

by Damaris West

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