Planting Olive Trees

When you plant an Olive Tree

don’t sing to it,

don’t sing songs of stars and moons

and distant galaxies, don’t lean

into its leafy ears and whisper

honey words, don’t even mouth

‘I love you’, don’t recite poems

of open valleys and journeys

don’t talk.

When you plant an Olive Tree

plant it away from other trees

and then: don’t visit it,

don’t entwine your arms through

its branches, don’t place your

face against its patterned bark

or reach out your tongue and taste,

don’t rub your back against its trunk

don’t stroke it.

When you plant an Olive Tree

don’t water it or shower it

with drops of dew, don’t sprinkle

it with the watering can of your

love, don’t pray for rain,

don’t snake a hosepipe

over sheer mountains or

climb treacherous rock

to bring relief

When you plant an Olive Tree

find the stoniest ground, don’t

prepare the planting with

fertilizer and soft soil, don’t mulch,

let its roots feel the harsh bite

of the earth, let it scrape

against jagged rocks, don’t dust

rose petals on fresh white linen

before you bed it down.

Let it lie in sharp gravel.

When you plant an Olive Tree

don’t cover it,

let it bend in the wind,

let its leaves crackle in the sun,

don’t build a boma of comfort,

don’t try and protect it with

your manly intentions,

let it struggle to find its own shade

let it shrivel.

Then it will bear fruit

for you.

I am not

an Olive Tree.

-Kerry Hammerton from These Are the Lies I Told You.

Kerry Hammerton is a poet, writer and alternative health practitioner. These are the lies I told you is her first poetry collection.