Friday, December 07, 2012

Thoughts on a London Plane Tree

Thoughts on a London Plane Tree

I notice it glowing from a gutter
Puddle and look up to see it
Maimed and naked, resentful
Of the tree surgeon’s pruning,
Or of that grim stave of transit,
The road.
                  But wait, the tree doesn’t resent.
It doesn’t think in blunt English, it doesn’t
Blunt think at all. If it has any tendencies,
It wields them with ardent Sloth.
But that’s no sin, a tree moving slowly.
There is no sin for a tree.

See how blunt my thinking is?
It crashes against the tree
Like a bead of rain, grasping almost
None of it.
Still, I don’t intend to give up.
Rain doesn’t give up after one drop.

I think trees must be awake
In some slow wise, must possess a gnarled sensibility.
Or at the very least, they are words spoken by the soil.

This one here is bursting with stillness.
It carves the air with numberless green-blooded swords,
Deciding to leaf or unleaf in step with the cadences
Of rainsong, the bulb flashes of day, the night’s blinks,
And the axial leanings of the great pedestal orb
In which it is plugged.

I stop to watch an invisible thought
Curling from a branch like guesswork. It might outlast me, unfurling
Arboreal inferences at the pace of an hour hand’s hour hand.

Watching a thought? I mean watching it being
Lively as a brick, livelier than a whole pile
Of bricks, and far more elegant than any built thing.
It is an ur-elegant primordial autobuilder, aesthetic ancestor
Whose swoops and jaggednesses are the original
Effortless style – but, unlike any human arrangement,
Actually effortless.
                                   Not that trees don’t labour:
They grow, stand fast, and tote the sky,
They hold off the rain, point out the stars, and guard the world
As seed-sprinkled sentinels dotted across the earth. They labour,
But they do not design themselves. Their shapeliness
Is our construction – though one may hang over a mirror
Pond for centuries, apparently dangling lovingly
Towards itself.
                            I dangle towards trees, lovingly.

My words are small and fleeting,
They land for a moment
On a branch and then are gone.

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