Blowing in the wind,
but there are no answers here:
here, where the birds are silent
and the forest keeps its secrets.
A young woman’s body turning gently
in a winter breeze; the creaking branch
from which she hangs; the swollen polyp
of her tongue—what does it mean?
What tribal ritual, what brutal revenge
was enacted here? We may never know….
and the wind can tell us nothing.
Very powerful Bill. Was there any particular incident that prompted this poem?
No, there was no particular incident, but I based the poem on pictures of hanging black bodies in the American Deep South in the early 20’s and later. I believe a poet (I forget who ) called those hanged people “strange fruit.”
The poet and song writer was Abel Meeropol who published under the name of Lewis Allan. Originally the poem was Bitter Fruit but he set it to music for Billie Holiday.
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees
So that’s who wrote it. I would love to hear it sung by Billie Holiday.