Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

The New Year of Trees

The New Year of Trees

By Fania Kruger

On this day of barren trees
Which is a mother's birthday,
Girls put Palestinian fruit into a basket:
Dried dates and pomegranates,
Figs, apples and carob pods.

On this day of the new year for trees
The fragrance of almond buds
And white lily cups rise in each home
Continuing the ancient custom
Of renewing the forest.

Twigs of herself, her daughters
In red cotton dresses,
Red ribbons across their braids,
Wait for the mother's call:
"Children, let us plant our tree
To grow in the twilight of clouds,
In the morning of sunlight."

They skip with her into the woods
Through the warm February snowfall. . .
Father stands there, his full beard
The color of upturned soil
Trembling with the movement of the spade.

The eldest of the five
Sets a sapling into the ground.
Pronouncing the benediction,
Shehehayanu, for the new tree,
The seven of them cover the roots.
The sound of shoveled earth:
Not for a grave but a living bed.

"Children," the mother says,
"No tree is barren when a new one is planted . . ."
Now these daughters, twigs of herself,
Gather the fruit of years into a basket.
And the branches of the seasons,
The barren, the fruitful,
Form into a perfect circle.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Fall 1960), p. 249


Fania Kruger was born in 1893 in Sevastopol, Russia. Her father was a rabbi and the family moved to the United States in 1908 for religious safety. After moving to Texas, Kruger became deeply involved in various human rights campaigns. Her political activism shaped her poetry, which won many awards. She died in Austin, Texas, in 1977.

Return To Table Of Contents