Ode to an unsuspecting conifer

by David Oakley-Hill
(Luton, Beds)

Bend forward, graceful, fragrant tree
with your small, pale streams of blue-grey decorations
hanging from elegant fifty foot shoulders
which carried fifty winters of snow,
as if straight from Narnia, but differing in timespan

It has been easy for you to live here
without the permafrost or sunless winters of the north
in my time I have done nothing for you –
except to watch and let you be

Many nests and infinite perches
providing a watchtower across the years
for great tits to whistle and dunnocks to trill
and jays to confirm where they are with a cackle
for blackbirds and wrens to give their alarm
for magpies and pigeons to quarrel or mate
for squirrels to leap –
or sit hunched, and give vent to their whingeing and sorrowful call

Your shadow was strong on those full moon nights
the three who remain will look down on your space
as the light pours across from the south

Bend toward me
instead of a kiss
I shall look into your skies and betray you

So I can fulfill my ambition
that your distant cousins may thrive in the sunlight
and I can be more self-sustaining -
it is to feed me that you will lose
in favour of others I choose to win
in the space of the wilderness that I command -
oh powerful, rampant consumer

No longer this garden will you oversee
soon few will remember the height of your fame;
but some of your benefits are to remain –
where last summer the mother flew over our heads
skimming repeatedly low to the shrill clamour from your trunk -
in the nest box I built, from your thirteen foot stump
the blue tits will still produce young

Above the leafless skyline silhouette
a golden-lined cloud comes to form one more halo
and the Lawson cypress gently waves its tallest arm -
enjoy your last, brilliant and still cobalt day

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Oct 01, 2014
Ode to an unsuspecting conifer
by: Doreen Steinberg

This is a lovely, sad poem. The thought of the beautiful tree's final day is haunting.

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