Poet Rachel Deering lives in Bath, England, with her cat, and works in the field of mental health supporting those who struggle with addiction. She has a love of the natural world and what it can tell us about ourselves. Rachel is a director of writing website ABCtales – where she also shares her own new poetry under username onemorething. She supports Signe Maene with Bookworm Saturday on Twitter, and can also be found tweeting poetry, art, nature, myth, folklore plus photos of her cat from her own account. Her first poetry collection is Crown of Eggshells.
I would make my home
in the trunk of a birch tree,
if I could; a small cavity hewn
into hollow, set against the ruin
of squall and bitterness.
And when a buff-tip moth emerges,
branch-like, and wonders,
wintered, if our birch is asleep
or dead, I will tell her
what this tree has seen –
the long desolation of an ice age,
yet was the first to renew, and
will be the earliest to leaf,
that its roots are waking
from annelid dreams,
the journeys of worms, stirred
by light to movement
in the unravelling of a March.
Dutch Elm Disease
Elms make good coffins
in their resistance to decay,
even though each tree, itself,
can struggle to survive.
We observe and accept so much
without the foundations of understanding:
it is said that you should not speak
whilst you dig a grave,
you should not look back
from a funerary procession.
You should not.
I don’t know why;
only that Orpheus was grief-stricken
with regret, resigned to be riparian
in a longer song of sleep, hung
upon the notes of music, strung
to the roots required to grow
a forest of Elm. Still, the green
of love leaves as all things
migrate to their own winters, in the end.
And this tree can perceive its tenants,
rally wasps, summon Saturn -
no mother to these sip-sap children
– expels them with repulsion.
You should not dream of death,
you should not depart a burial
by the same route that you arrived.
You should not.
I don’t know why
there are thresholds that we keep
or cross; the Elm marks a passage alone,
is no arbiter of choices and besides,
alternatives narrow when one is stunted
from actualisation: this is a disease
of the unloving of a bark beetle, here,
only a jaundice of sorrow
can multiply amongst the living.
A pine tree has a coolness
that imparts a blue tone
to the discomfort of its needles, and
I have seen its spines of shade
and known that love can be as painful
as much as it may be evergreen.
These pine trees,
their trunks can grow broad enough
to hide a man in,
a coffin for a god,
can stretch high enough to climb skyward,
but still, at times, not refrain
from snuffing the whiteness of stars.
And their sap flows with the moon,
in cycles, as the syrup of kinder words wanes,
though I appear untroubled, allow the disinfectant
of their resin to ward away the inconvenience
of the possession of any blame.
Despite this, these pine trees
have marked the graves of losses
and mapped my route of regret,
they hang my memories on the snags
of lower branches and notch out
the lengths of their tall lives.
Younger years survived, I divide what remains
between this forest of dependents,
from lichen scale to blooms of chanterelles
in symbiosis, and creeping ladies tresses
to the crossbills who call out
their celtic-voiced reminders from red limbs,
and who pluck the seeds from fertile cones
until I burn the timber to invite a warmth back in.