There was once an olive tree.
It sat at the top of the hill, among rows of sisters and brothers, silent, under the scorching sun.
Before there was fire, the fertile grove burst with joy. The harvesting seasons – gatherings of promises. The children climbed up its arms, their innocent palms pressed firmly into the bark. The mothers picked its fruit with callous fingers. A nativity scene.
There was once an olive tree. A construction site for a theme park is all that remains.
There was once a clean river.
It ran placidly through the Jordan Valley, through the Al-Auja village and the Wadi Auja spring. On summer evenings it was a golden river.
Before there was poison, the people of the village bathed in its waters. Echoes of laughter remained well after sunset, imprints of an embrace forever reflected in its surface. A stream of bliss.
There was once a river. Decaying cartons of American breakfast cereal is all that remains.
There was once a barley field.
A ten-hectare saffron ocean stretching outside the doors of Burin. A tender mother to the villagers – a family of ten, and then a family of nine, and one of seven, and another, and another.
Before there was concrete, the wind rustled through the spikes, a lullaby for those residing nearby. The assurance of comfort through the seasons.
There was once a barley field. Miles of barbed wire is all that remains.
There was once the Dead Sea.
A stretch of static liquid, a basin of jades. At its sides, all around, pink rocks. They stood tall against the sky, ethereal.
Before there was plastic, its banks were sacred. The women emerged from its waters with patterns of salt on their tanned skin, smiles on their dry lips.
There was once the Dead Sea. A members-only infinity pool is all that remains.
This is all that remains.
Linda Mohamed is an Italian-Palestinian artist living in London. She holds a Joint BA in Journalism & Creative Writing and Politics from The University of Strathclyde. Before starting her current role in trade publishing, she worked across creative industries in journalism, magazine writing, podcasting and radio. In 2019, she hosted a creative writing workshop at the Dardishi Arab Arts Festival in Glasgow.