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Series of Three Poems

Poetry, Lola Anaya

Part I: Harvested

I don’t want to write

About oppression anymore

I want to write about trees and geese—

The warmth of a sunrise in winter,

How it trembles the earth

Until we all stop and watch,


I wish I could be Mary Oliver or Dickinson

Or Wordsworth

And see daffodils as daffodils—

Exploration as mine to claim,

A path for me to walk

I want the sky and the dirt,

Every lake and all the rocks

A garden can offer

I want to think of these things

Without a plague looming—no, not that plague— The one that tells me

Go back to your country

On the subway,

Not knowing that I am from a place

Being harvested by this country,

That’s been harvested

Since 1898,

And that doesn’t begin to

Explain the 400 years prior

When They landed on Our beaches

And claimed the sand beneath their feet

What if I wanted the sand back?

But I can’t write about the

Sand, the forest, the rivers

Spilling into oceans

Polluted by destiny

And exploration—

I can’t write about it—


Part II: Backyard Tree

The wise oak wakes up


Each spring on some land

Marked by enclosure

Accompanied by manhandled landscaping—

Manicured lawns with

No clover to wish upon

The grass may wish to grow;

The tree? He wants a companion

To bask the blossoms of spring with

He doesn’t wish to be alone another season

He wonders if his mangled branches

Will ever be acceptable—

Will they compare to the dainty blades of grass

Holding gentle steps, blankets, sunbathers—

Or if he will always be a tree to stop

Walkers in their tracks

With his brooding height

The blades of grass wonder if they would get

Stepped on less if they were tall;

If they had large, unfathomable trunks

Holding them steady to earth,

Giving them distance from inconsiderate shoes

And children ripping them from the dirt

It worries them—how they walks like they own

The land

And when the Man comes to slice each blade down To an acceptable length, appropriate to step

Down upon, to mangle—

Must we always battle the scythe?

It lures us to give in, to enjoy this compliant fate While the tree watches from above,

As he, too, grows sturdy with unrest,

Until the next spring—


Part III: What It Means To Be Free

I can’t write about it

Until the next spring

I can’t write about it

Until representation has a real purpose

And I feel seen in who decides my future

I can’t write about the trees,

And the leaves,

The flowers,

Nor can I write about basking in the grass

Until I know that I am safe to do so

Holding hands with someone I love across

This country that raised me

Until being Puerto Rican isn’t an exotic

Fun fact

And while we’re talking about being Puerto Rican,

I can’t write about it freely

Until Domino Sugar

Gives Our island its flowers,

By which I mean reparations for the last

Century and counting

I am the wise oak,

All alone in someone’s backyard

On a colonial property

And I am blades of grass

Pulled from the dirt,

In fear of being stepped on

When I make an attempt

To grow—


But I can’t do it,

I can’t write or change or stand sturdy in the dirt

Without centuries of pain on my shoulders

Holding me back; I can’t move on

Without crumbling an empire first.


Lola Anaya (they/them) is a Puerto Rican poet attending Smith College for English & Art History. They work with The Poetry Society of New York, Black Sunflowers Press, and Wave Books. Their poetry explores colonialism and nature imagery and attempts to deconstruct notions of convention. They have read their poetry at Spoonbill & Sugartown Books and will be featured at the New York City Poetry Festival this summer. When they are not writing, Lola is likely taking a walk, searching for flowers to press and collage with.


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