Lucy Hamilton’s Tree



In memory of my father, John Plowright

A tree is thick − or thin –
skinned, its sap
carries sugar
to leaves, feeds
new cells, infuses roots
with energy

and the cambium –
almost invisible –
is as oxygen to blood:
a tree’s power
to live is in this
cell-thick film.

I remember
when a child
you showed me how to read
a tree’s mind,
understand rings’ secrets –
as ripples

radiating from flint
skimmed on water
reveal a lone man’s back,
swing of arm –
inner stillness.

The heartwood is
the dead centre,
trees’ strength, rigidity;
if air reaches
the heart it decays,
makes hollow.

But no-one knows
how it bends
its dead heart
to reach the light
or why drilling for poems
is filling holes.

First published in Making Worlds (Headland, 2003); edited by Myra Schneider and Dilys Wood; Preface by Anne Stevenson.

Photo: Giampiero Johnny Murialdo


For the Albero Project, click on the tag.