Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism
THE OLIVE TREES
f r a n k   x.   g a s p a r

In the campus courtyard, in the center of the oldest building
among all the old Spanish buildings, among the white
stuccoed walls, among the ochre tiled roofs, the olive trees
are preparing to leave this world. They are dropping
the dark boles of their olives. They are lightening their burden
as if they might straighten their scarred backs. And the olives
are everywhere under the feet of the young girls and
the young boys and under the shoes of the old men
who are stooped with the weight of their books: olives
like black stars or black fish, staining the brick, drawing
the gnats and the resolute sparrows. The olives are bitter.
You cannot eat them. Here in the sun, on the weathered
bench, I cannot think how Claudius Caesar could have survived
alone on the secret olives he plucked from his trees, when he knew
his wife had poisoned his meals for weeks on end. Yet he outlasted
her resolve. That is the story. But these olives are bitter and
you cannot eat them. And where can they think they are
going, these bent, decrepit trees? See how they cast away
their eyes and ears. And the young crushing them under
their soft, light feet, and the old crushing them under
their heavy heels. These trees! See how they think they
have had enough of the earth? See how their shadows
are merely lace, how they leave the morning sun unperturbed?
See how they ready themselves over and over for the new life?

From Night of a Thousand Blossoms, 2004 ~ Alice James Books, Farmington, ME

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