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Caleb Parkin Tree of Sanctuary Written with Bristol Refugee Rights

Bristol City Poet
Caleb Parkin

Written by Caleb Parkin

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Written with Bristol Refugee Rights conversation group.

She wears a brown suit with a tie
but has sprayed her hair green
and she does not wear shoes.

She is proud of her hair of
mango, palm, jackfruit, bay
pātā; the shelter it offers.

She provides for everyone:
oxygen and safety; steamed الأرز
(al’aroz) ten times a week; peace and dal;

her shakhah grows homes, friendships.
Under her branches, we relax,
exercise, dance and rap.

Tree of Sanctuary is friendly
with the wind, says, You can play
with me, but not break my limbs.

When she invites the sun
for dinner, they feast on
carbon dioxide. When birds

land on her arms, she says
Welcome my loves, my luverrs.
We cannot live on Earth

without her and the others:
the medicines they give.
She cares about her health,

changes colour every season.
Destiny is written on each
sheet of her paper-of-tree:

she tells us on every leaf
those we love can leave,
have the right to safety.

Hello mate, she says
to the rain:
Let’s have a party.


  • In Bengali, pātā is leaf; a branch is a dal
  • In Persian, barg is a single leaf; a branch is shakah
  • Paper-of-tree is the literal translation of ‘leaf’ in Arabic; الأرز / (al’aroz) is rice

Listen to Samhar, Ferdous, Johurul and Rezgar read the poem:

Samhar, Ferdous, Johurul and Rezgar read ‘Tree of Sanctuary’.

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