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Poets Corner

Recipe for an oak tree

Start with oak tree concentrate:
the browning bead that sheds its dimpled cap.
Set it in the crumbling loam
and add water.

Let it warm in the earth’s dark oven
until it begins to rise.
Baste it in sunlight
and keep the fluid well topped-up.

Guard it from passing rabbits,
from the thrown net of brambles
and the blinkered man who becomes
single-minded with a strimmer in his hand.

Watch it stretch tall,
extruding the secret strength
that hides within the planet’s crust.

Press the bark until it creases
and furrows with wrinkles like a crone.
Arrange the branches, so they spread,
and rise, and dip like saddles.

Garnish it with ivy, with beetles,
with wasp galls, and
a finishing tawny owl.

Jane Dards

Talking to the Oak

I lean against you
I hold my breath,

The bark cracks; a ball of beetles falls out.
Whispers run along your branches -
do you speak to your children?
Acorn babies, soft sprouting
beneath a duvet of earth and leaf;
adolescent saplings clicking their twigs for attention
in the valley below.
Your first-born stands guard beside you,
quiet watcher of man.
How many year circles
ripple through time inside you?
A library of the seasons,
written by hungry roots;
gift-wrapping granite
on a journey through soil and stone.

I hold my breath,
I wish I could hear.

Alison Englefield

Oak Tree Photo: Steven Kind