The Old Banyan Tree

Scorched, but still standing
the media said of the massive tree
in the heart of Lahaina after fires
blazed through Maui so swiftly, the sea
offered the best chance of escape.

This tree spans almost two acres,
spreading octopus arms
since its slender inception
as an 8-foot sapling in 1873.

Lahaina lore recalls how residents
coaxed symmetrical growth
by hanging glass jars.

The roots of a Banyan sprout
from its branches, dangling at first,
as if considering options
before settling into the soil.

The tree can live for centuries.

And maybe show me how
to keep standing
with scorched leaves.

About the Poem

When I read that the beloved Banyan tree of Lahaina was scorched but still standing, it felt like a metaphor for all those who have suffered great loss without collapsing.

About the Author

Jacqueline Jules is the author of Manna in the Morning (Kelsay Books, 2021) and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her newest collection, Smoke at the Pentagon: Poems to Remember, was released by Bushel & Peck in September 2023. Visit 

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