“Soy quien soy.
Una coincidencia no menos impensable
que cualquier otra.”

Wislawa Symborska

21 Oct 2021


Post by Rowena Hill


An astronaut in orbit
sees no singular growing things.

A body levitating
above the curve of earth
sees the mother of dreams –

forests are her hair; they stand
holding up multitudinous forks
to their father sun

and smaller woods and pockets
sprout on her mound of love
in her armpits
and on her dark woman’s lip.

Every tree is a little god
(and some are great ones);

every tree is androgyne
and speaks to the undivided egg,
our platonic soul.

A tree has thrust and spread,
it grows hard and straight
and its crown holds sunbeams;

it’s rod to rule and protect
mothering gift of green.

A tree is a big cock
always erect and foaming;

hormonal males feel challenged,
can’t allow such potent poles
to share their spaces.

Axe to the tree in the garden
and if the children cry:
‘the leaves were a nuisance’.

Chainsaw to the tree in the parking lot,
its roots might crack the concrete.

Bulldozer cutting a swathe
through the Amazon forest
won’t swerve ten yards to save
a colossus centuries in the growing,
inviolable for a gentler people.

A tree is home

to worms and moles
burrowing among roots

ants and beetles
camping under bark

lizards and squirrels
that cruise the branches

monkeys and birds,
live threads in a canopy

birds darting into the sky
wheeling down at sunset
tendering song –

to live creatures
drawn to its ambit,
airstreams for lungs and wings
shade for hot bodies.

A child draws a tree
as a ball or lozenge
propped on a leg.

There are trunks like white rockets’
fins rising from pasture

round trees with round fruit
and fruits that dangle from strings

crowns that are bowls for the sky to rest in
branches that droop and are strewn like rain;

silver golden black
crimson vermilion
greens jewelled and dusky
grey and blue tinted
bloom on their shapes.

Voice older than ears

a tree interprets the wind’s will
rustle of slightest impetus
stampede of cataclysm.

The wind scatters the tree’s seeds
its tired leaves
(only the wind knows the sequence
of their fall).

The tree’s conversation with light
begins with sprout
and ends with rotting stump;
more letters than the stars
have flashed from its leaves.

Not long ago a tree
stood for constancy
full life, quiet growth and decay
and belonging, roots in a place;

trees were witnesses
of promises of love
and laid their hands on pain.

Now we can’t trust them
to unfold their seeds entirely
or outlive our maimed brevity –
the chainsaw threatens,
the urban sprawl climbs –

at the same instant we love them
we fear for their vegetable lives.

Is there a tree heaven
where severed trunks take hold again
and worn stumps grow shoots –
an endless sighing babbling
orchard forest jungle
prairie garden lone-tree hill?

Can we choose to go there?

light leaf light
lesson listen
now is lovely
now is all
leave be

What more poem than their names?

fir cedar pine larch
birch beech alder elder
rowan holly plum laburnum
kowhai rimu pohutakawa
maple willow eucalypt
ficus sandal peepul neem
nutmeg mango avocado
pumarrosa flamboyant
tulip champak casuarina
cumquat orange bay may
oak elm ash plane
lime chestnut sycamore
apple pear peach apricot
redwood ilex kauri teak
magnolia mahogany

Ripple of wind
a red leaf falls
in the mountain stream



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