#NationalTreeWeek I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks about trees. Please include a short third person bio.

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The Barkskin – photo by Paul Brookes

So light passes through every leaf

From leaf
I long to learn
to let light
through every cell.

What is this light passes through leaf?

When the leaf does not eclipse my eye,
the light lands where I can see it,
subsumed in other light
(or being more mobile than leaf, perhaps I
am the one with agency to eclipse).

What light passes through leaf?
With eye within the penumbra I can barely see it;
such bright light shuts my pupil:
I shun the glare involuntarily:
it lands in my iris.

What light comes through?
In the umbra I dilate.
I dilate as if on purpose–
purpose–iris–unfallen leaf

From leaf I long to learn
to unimpede,
to look less solid,
as I know I am as much space between atoms
as the space between stars.

-Karina Lutz

wounds

i want to know
bark intimately
by the bite
of early syrup.
i need the names
of the wrappings
around coarse
trees: the dry,
the thin-skinned,
the unravelling.
i must get familiar
with the flesh;
the pulped meat
like a jerky. my eyes
are pine blue.

— K Weber

Day-drenched

After a cloudburst, the tree
bark appears reptilian

especially the sweet
gum in its damp sloth

and the slither
of a slow trickle.

In unwavering verdure
the midday sneaks by, stainless.

Animal and insect resume
their wet warbling.

The robins disperse
from trunk and fence

as limpid sky invites
the bluest canopy.

The only video of this scene
will play in raw memory.

Baffled, batting eyes
adapt to the remediation

of sun in just this moment

***originally self-published in my 2019 collaborative poetry project, “This Assembly” (https://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/413/) featuring words donated by Tom Gumbert (reptilian), Oak Ayling (unwavering), Peach Delphine (verdure), Mathew Yates (warbling), Venus Davis (limpid), Reluctant Ringmaster (video), Cassie Coletta (baffled) & Madeleine Corley (remediation)

— K Weber

The Old Year

The satisfying crunch
of the grass underfoot
and branches newly jewelled
in first light

Watery sun bleeding
along the horizon
distant mists dispersing
as it climbs

Witnessing the garden
before the kettle boils
nothing much to report
of the old year

Scattered splash of yellow
and rust-red clinging on
with tendrils seeking still
a safer hold

These last few nasturtiums
whose heads wearily droop
till conquered by the frost
they’ll finally fall

The earth is sleeping now
you can hear the soil sigh
listen for what truth
you might discern

Then pause along the path
stare up at the ash tree
as if it held some lessons
you could learn

-Mick Jenkinson

Ash
(with all due respect to Richard Wilbur)

The High King of Summer, bent and ancient,
stands by my back door, bearing his crown.
The lawn respects his shade and dies, turning brown
and dry. My sons turn cartwheels and fence
with plastic swords across the throne room, bent
on mayhem, hardly noticing the regal frame
that looms over the garden. When I named
The Old King I did not intend prescience.

As autumn comes I watch him overwhelmed;
a poor, creeping end for Odin’s World Tree.
The King of Summer loses his crown and realm
to the usurping fungus: that sneaking, petty
thief. Generous giver: as ash keys fall like confetti,
will this year close the annals of the ash tree?

-Yvonne Marjot

Conkers on the Knavesmire

They remind me it’s mid September
despite the weather, an illusion

of summer, like the cows in the field
near the old Terry’s factory

are an illusion of the countryside.
They distract me from my déjà vu

of the last time I did this walk,
in the midst of lockdown.

It felt like summer then too,
though it was only April.

Low Moor, Hull Road Park,
St Nicholas’s Fields,

I’ve avoided them
like the painting by numbers

I started, as my grandad avoided loose tea.
A tea leaf on his tongue brought back the war.

-Peter J. Donnelly

Fountains Abbey

Built along the Skell by monks
banished from St Mary’s,
for the practical purpose
of the river, not the beauty
of the dale, to which they were blind,
how did they keep their faith
that harsh winter, in land
they considered only fit
for wild beasts? Did they foresee
that deer would one day graze
in neighbouring Studley Royal?
A Georgian garden they could never
have imagined, nor the Elizabethan hall,
their only shelter a thatched hut
by a great elm, their food
its leaves boiled in water
perhaps from the springs
that gave the monastery its name.
-Peter J Donnelly

Brain Tree not in Essex

From the Arcadia tree
I might pick the how-to
of simultaneous equations.
Tucked down a hole in the bark –
the key to the periodic table
and infusing the leaf tips
could release the power to
translate from any language

I choose.

A big old strong tree, gnarled
like an olive and full of owls –
Loll on in its generous shade
inhaling that uniquely exotic fragrance;
the power to command every quote and
epigram carried by the bees,
ivy-league messengers sweetly laden
with the harmony of the spheres.

-Jane Newberry

Woodbrains, woodbrides, woodwives

Grovemind, groovemind

synaptic branches
neuron tipped limbs
sacred grove recovery

oakbrain opens doors in my head
ashbrain spears my ideas
elmbrain plays the fey

electric gust moves limbs
inside my head

barkskin neural net
circumnavigates damage
fruited hemispheres
replenish, restore, reimagine

senses water roots
grove in my head
grooves in my head

between oaklimbs
between ashlimbs

her flaps of the wood
bride of the barkskin
her inner lips of the forest
fermented honey drip
not butterfly laced stained glass

fapleaf
lamina mulch make out

fragile doors into lust
nympha

tongue kindly these guardians

ashwives

grew from blossoming blood
of Sky’s balls and prick
hacked off by jagged edged
adamantine sickle wielded
by his son, Time,
goaded on by his mam, Earth,
distraught at Sky exiling
her one eyed bairns in hell.

Oakface

Blaze is agog at Oakface
funking it up in her dance.
Her dad is a river,
her body writhes,
as if under rocks,
tumbles o’er ravines.
Her mam is called ‘Many Gifts’.
She hums her mam’s sweet songs
as she dances.
Oakface wants nowt
of leering Blaze.

Oh, how cute! Oakface
is flushed when her friends
find a lost tortoise outside.

She sits down with her mates,
puts tortoise on her lap.
Tortoise writhes into a snake,
her friends scarper.

Snake becomes Blaze
who screws her
agin her will.

Sobbin’
pulled art an afeard
she runs to her dad,
River, and mam, Many Gifts.

Gives birth to bairn
she calls ‘Both’,
Takes him where a lotus
tree grows an hums her mam’s sweet songs
as she picks a flower

off of it
for bairn to play with,
blood trickles dahn
her wrist an ‘both’
feels his mam’s tit
harden as her feet
become roots
her flesh become
barkskin
of a poplar tree.

Lotus tree were woodbride
hiding from Penis
as were after her.

And bastard son of Blaze
is left pulled out
and bawling for his mam.

Whispering Forest

walk among us, as us

known as oakman
known as birchwoman
known as elmlad
known as ashlass

Each one gentle,
one is strong
one elegant
all older than they look

their voices not listened to
I talk to the tree
“Hug a tree
I am a tree
seen as signs of waywardness
to be laughed at,
pilloried and scorned.

later they will scream
when cut down
or have a limb amputated

we ought to listen.

-Paul Brookes (Excerpt from my book “The Headpoke And Firewedding”, still available second hand)

Bios And Links

-K Weber

has 6 online poetry book projects in digital and audio formats. Access these works at http://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com as well as all credits for her published writing, photography and more!

-Peter J Donnelly

lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary. He has a degree in English Literature and a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales Lampeter.

He has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including Writer’s Egg where ‘Survival’ previously appeared.  ‘Peppered Moth’ was included in the Ripon Poetry Festival anthology ‘Seeing Things’. ‘One Day on Dartmoor’ was highly commended in the Barn Owl Trust competition and published in their anthology ‘Wildlife Words’. It was also published online by the National Trust on their Fingle Woods webpage.

-Karina Lutz
worked as a sustainable energy advocate for three decades. Earlier, she received an MSJ from Medill School of Journalism and worked as an editor, reporter, and magazine publisher. She’s currently collaborating to launch a permaculture community, Listening Tree Cooperative.

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