This weeks Saturday Poetry, matched with mobile photography/art is entitled The Flame Tree by Evelyn Flores. She is an Indigenous CHamoru poet and the co-editor of Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia (University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2019).
“As it had been for the rest of the world, it had been a year of death and dying for us in the wake of the virus. On an island like Guåhan where families are connected in many different ways, we walked about in a state of shock that this could be happening. Then it was that my neighbor leaning across the fence talked about poisoning the flame tree. Although it made sense, something inside resisted. But it was done. Dying and living came together as I watched that courageous tree refuse to die. We would go on. The beautiful would insist. That’s when the poem came.” She wrote about this poem.
I have matched mobile art by @vickieiphoto52 entitled ‘Upside Down Tree’ with this poem. To view her Instagram feed, please go here.
If you would like to be featured in our Saturday Poetry section, please ensure you include the hashtag #theappwhisperer to any images posted to Instagram. This will mean we will be able to consider it.
To view the others we have published in this section, go here.
The Flame Tree by Evelyn Flores
My neighbor has decided to poison the flame tree.
He is right, of course.
The tree is over 20 years old, huge, spreading,
and the termites have worn jagged roads clear to its top.
It’s clearly a danger
tilting toward our house—
some fickle wind
my neighbor says could blow it over.
Every fañomnåkan, it sends out its bursts of orange blossoms;
it blooms and blooms and blooms relentlessly,
the flares it sends shooting out into space
more stunning than fireworks
through the window
where my mother
riveted to a bed, doomed by her body to a colorless spot,
gazes out, her head on a pillow—
might have seemed like forever to her who used to climb green mountain sides—
and watches that tree full of sparrows
flitting here and there
and the outlandish blazing petals
steadfastly singing against the blue sky.
My neighbor, true to his word,
injected a poisonous brew bought at Home Depot into the trunk of the tree,
the toxic river traveling up up up following the termite trails to the heart
of the fire.
He is right, of course.
The tree came back the following year,
its clusters unflinchingly parading their bursts of rebellious orange.
But the poison had done its work—
see, where there was a canopy of flames
there are now just a handful here and there,
one spray in particular desperately
like a fist full of beauty
to the window
used to watch for its return.
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