Hugging the Tree by Zeina Azzam

Photo looking up at tree
Photo by Jon Moore on Unsplash

“Social distancing during Covid means no hugs.”
—NBC News

It was neither part of a protest
nor a statement to the world.
I simply put my arms around
a tall oak and stood in embrace,
our bodies juxtaposed.
There was no swaying: her
trunk, solid and true, felt like
an ancestor, a pillar thick
with years. Her bark scratched
my skin if I moved, so I stayed
still. It was a time to be calm
and reflect on our presence
together. To look up to the sky
and fathom the height of my
partner. To inhale the earthy
scent. To arc my grateful arms
around this strong matriarch
and whisper into the wood
my wordless secret: I have not
really hugged anyone for months
my dear tree.


Zeina Azzam
Zeina Azzam is a Palestinian American poet, writer, editor, and community activist. Her poems appear in literary journals including Pleiades Magazine, Mizna, Sukoon Magazine, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Split This Rock, Barzakh: A Literary Magazine, and Voice Male, and in the edited volumes Tales from Six Feet Apart, Bettering American Poetry, Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by and for Refugees, and Gaza Unsilenced. Zeina’s chapbook, Bayna Bayna, In-Between, is published by The Poetry Box (May 2021). She earned an MA in Arabic literature at Georgetown University.

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4 thoughts on “Hugging the Tree by Zeina Azzam”

    1. Thank you so much, Hani and Diane! I’m so glad you liked this poem. Sending you much love and many hugs!

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