#TheCodex – Rachel Deering


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.

Birch Tree 

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. 

Pine Trees 

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. 

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