The Question of Old Trees
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“The Question of Old Trees,” Ensign, Dec. 1979, 56

The Question of Old Trees

In the Garden of Gethsemane

they squat in the rain like ancient Muslems.

Pruned to the quick, pale green leavings of three centuries

supple above their tumored bellies fat five feet across.

The olive trees alone would make this holy ground.

In their shadowy reaches their rootings were awake

to the intimate sojourner,

His fugitive peace,

before the incalculable fraud.

Out of the gray-black hulks

the wispy limbs give to the wind,

and the tasteless rain goes without falling

like old tears.

The thousand thousands shout their incredible claims

in the narrow crossings of this barkless place

And the heavy trunks store their bright secrets.

It would not take another cross to let them flow;

only certainty.

The arms are raised by judicious pruning

and have met the cuts with impertinent green.

  • From Emma Lou Thayne, Once in Israel, forthcoming from Brigham Young University Press (Spring 1980)