Shamala by Amber Koneval


If you want to talk about people
then you need to talk about
trees

eighteen trees line a fence
he said that they’ve grown
up to there
so tall the children crane their necks
to see where the leaves reach down
with branches thick and keen
for the touch of their clever fingers
resting on the bark
as if to say

I feel you
and I remember

water my tree from a well dug deep
in an old, dry pasture
by foreign tongues and skin as sensitive
as milk
and remember me
in the shade of the tree that knows
the feel of my cupped hands
down deep in its soil
its roots twisted thick
round my veins
and think of me
flowing

I wrote this after a particularly moving Skype conversation I had with Dr. Shamala of SAFI, the man who was my guide during my mission trip in Kenya. It was published here in the MOLT journal on April 25th.

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