Before the War, by Jane Clarke

jane clarke


Before the War

these hills were peopled with trees,
everywhere, grey olive groves
stood old and gnarled as history,

sending silver-leafed branches
wandering wide and low
through the lives of those

who measured their wealth
in oil, crossed a friend’s
threshold with oil, blessed

their children with oil,
who set the orchards singing
with the crack of sticks

on winter branches, plop of fruit
falling to blankets, laughter of girls
holding baskets, balanced and full.

Jane Clarke

From The River, 2015, republished here by kind permission of Bloodaxe Books.

Submitted in response to our anti-war submissions call out.

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