FALL 2007

Olivastri Millenari*

In stillness, I look upon the weathered face
of the Ancient Mother, Tree of Life,
Tomb of Death, Womb of all that is sacred.
4,000 years of wrinkled bark stare back at me.

You call me Daughter, whisper lovingly
in my ear and I cry. The ache I swaddle
in my belly eases at your kindness,
the bitter silence sweetened by your succulent shade.

Lay your head upon my lap, you invite.
I will cradle your weariness,
bless your courage, encourage your soul.

Ancient-Being, dark and deep, your roots burrow into the cold clay,
an anchor. Your strong limbs scoop the sky, uniting Earth
and Heaven, sparking a bridge of blue and green;
the air shimmers as your leafy fingers tickle the wind.

Inside the hollowed cave of your trunk, cobwebs
collect the secrets of insects, weaving stories
my ears long to hear. There, into uterine wood
I crawl, bent in supplication.

My heart calls you, Mama, knows you as home.
My bones remember: You are the Mother of Multitudes.

For thousands of years you escaped the biting blade of dogma,
the harsh axe that sought to silence your heart,
quell your ancient breath.

Guerrilla-tree, you resisted, as defiantly loving
as a Bodhisattva, fierce and untamable,
loyal only to the irrepressible “Yes!”
Crone-tree, you echo, still, the clarion call of the ages:
justice with compassion, mercy, equality, transformation.

Under your delicate sway of grace we pilgrims
come and go, resting beneath your generous bough
in an open field in Sardegna. We are held fast,
witnessed by the all-seeing eyes of sky and soil.

Beside you, we gather, large and small, wounded souls,
welcomed home to wholeness, at long last
reunited with so many things lost along the way.

*English translation: The ancient olive tree

Author’s note: I wrote this poem after visiting this ancient tree, the precursor to the olive, while on a Dark Mother study tour in Sardinia led by Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum in 2004. Though the tree was not on the group’s itinerary, some of us noticed a photo and an accompanying article about this ancient being, posted on a bulletin board in the hotel lobby where we stayed. The story said that the tree is thought to be between 3000 and 4000 years old and the foremother of the modern olive tree. Knowing that the ancients believed trees to be the body of the Mother/Goddess, we knew instantly we had to make a pilgrimage. The next morning our group detoured from the itinerary schedule to visit the tree, paying homage to her.