For Fadhil Assultani

Round Hilla’s date palms, first fruits glisten,
jeweled bracelets dangling from the arms of trees.

Black hawks hover low over groves.
The Euphrates obscured beyond the trees.

The stories about a gardenia and a girl who left
her shadow on the water you told to your tree.

In a pattern mimicking the flight of refugees
birds flee from the ancient city of trees.

Inside my pocket I carry a packet of seeds
carrying in their coats copies of trees.

Tomorrow’s another country where here will be
elsewhere, and I’ll not know the names of the trees.

Apricots are orange gifts. You call me Hadar.
Speak of your village and its hundred trees.

*

Hai-Dang Phan was born in Vietnam and raised in Wisconsin. He is a graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Florida. His poems have appeared in Lana Turner, Barrow Street, Everyday Genius, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. He teaches at Grinnell College.

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