Three Ways of Looking at a Tree
by Jos Smith
We were looking for your best side,
a single photograph that captured HAWTHORN
an image that said CLIFFTOP ENDURANCE
or showed on a calm blue day
the loose direction of a decade’s wind.
What we found were these berries
the colour of dried blood
– here take them, have them, they are yours, anyone’s –
while the spirit of the tree passed out below,
sifting back down through the earth.
Whose black skeleton is this left here then?
Whose troubled silhouette,
home from home for Sweeney working his claws?
Who will remember these blackening berries
as the blind Atlantic wind swallows them whole?
by Jeremy Over
It seems to hang lifelessly now in midsummer leaf
but here comes the wind moving through the fields of barley
like a pack of hounds on the trail of a day
when the same tree was loud
with an anxiety of winter thrushes
which, as I approached, made it breathe in
and then just let go, giving everything up:
the full deck of cards spread out, hand over hand.
THE GREEN MAN
by Ben Smith
Now I appear in beams,
now in door-frames, the edges
of bookcases and chairs.
I don’t know why I am inside,
in drawers, in wardrobes,
in floorboards’ warped whorls.
Nothing but flat surfaces,
no boles or branches.
And varnish, Christ! My face
eyes sealed open and nothing to do
but stare at ceilings,
willing the wood to grow.
Nothing to look forward to but the sun
drying my mouth into a crooked grin.
Time is sanded down, one day
into another. I split
through paint on window sills;
splinters bloom, while outside
the first leaves unfurl.
Somewhere, the first leaves unfurl.
Jeremy Over lives and works in Cockermouth, Cumbria. He has had poems published in various magazines and anthologies and in 2002 won the BBC wildlife poetry competition. His two collections are ‘A Little Bit of Bread and No Cheese’ (Carcanet 2001) and ‘Deceiving Wild Creatures’ (Carcanet 2009).
Jos Smith is a freelance researcher, writer and poet currently working on a history of the arts and environmental charity Common Ground (funded by the British Academy). He lives in north Dorset.
Ben Smith has recently completed a PhD in Environmental Poetics at Exeter University. He now works as a freelance editor and occasional lecturer. His poetry, criticism and short fiction have appeared in various journals, magazines and anthologies. His first pamphlet of poetry will be published by Worple Press in 2014. He is currently working on a poetry collection about wolves. He blogs at wolves-etc.blogspot.co.uk.