A Visit to His Village

Yael Massen


With each beating brought down on the tree
I cringe, as if it is criminal for the men

to shake the fruits from its limbs
with a stick. It is not a proper harvest,

but who is to tell a host his own rules
of etiquette? His mother at my feet holds the ladder

steady as I enter the ceremony, shake the purple
olives. This week I remember the shapes like buttons;

next year like bullets. Each tree in its private hurricane.
Through a gale within the branches, her broken English

asks me to tell her a fiction: what would save him
in this village takes a woman, any kind. I can not

shake down enough fruits to say thank you
for the bed in which I sleep alone, for letting me hear

the new language built through the walls
of their home: mother and son crying themselves

into a kind of peace, waiting for a voice
that calls for the switch to stop falling.




Yael Massen is a first-year MFA student in poetry at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her work can be found within the pages and URLs of Mid-American Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and DIALOGIST.



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