All the People Who Are Now Red Trees

All the People Who Are Now Red Trees

(by RFC Advisory Board and CARRY IT FORWARD cast member, Martín Espada)

When I see the red maple
I think of a shoemaker
and a fish peddler
red as the leaves,
electrocuted by the state
of Massachusetts.

When I see the red maple,
I think of flamboyán’s red flower,
two poets like flamboyán
chained at the wrist
for visions of San Juan Bay
without Navy gunboats.

When I see the flamboyán,
I think of my grandmother
and her name, Catalán for red,
a war in Spain
and nameless laborers
marching with broken rifles.

When I see my grandmother
and her name, Catalán for red,
I think of union organizers
in graves without headstones,
feeding the roots
of red trees.

When I stand on a mountain,
I can see the red trees of a century,
I think red leaves are the hands
of condemned anarchists, red flowers
the eyes and mouths of poets in chains,
red wreaths in the treetops to remember,

I see them raising branches
like broken rifles, all the people
who are now red trees.

© Martín Espada (reprinted with permission)