NaPoWriMo Day 11

The prompt for today (which you can read here) was to write a letter to a person, and then write their reply to you. I didn’t quite obey today, as I chose to write to a tree. My favourite tree, the beech. I have gone for prose poetry as suggested in the prompt.

Letter to a beech tree

Queen Beech, what was it like to grow solo, deserted by the wood you were mother of? In our garden you stood alone, our house named Beechwood. Did they chop down your family? Did they die of a bug? You remain my landmark. Wherever I go, I seek out your sisters, take their dancing hands, let them lead me into the tapestry of light flung from their branches; leaf buds fan out, spread lemon-juice light on helleborines, bluebells, wood anemones. I chase you through the year; spring light, summer shade, blaze of autumn, winter’s latticed glitter. I’ve lost where I belong. I can’t find my place except its always elsewhere and I’m shivered to leave. You’re my tower. I send a flurry of oval prayers; I ask you to chide me, let your twiggy fingers dig out my forgotten promises.

The beech tree’s reply

Though I’m the queen, as you say, I’m still glad for your letter – it’s lonely up here and I remember you well, scumbling at my feet – were you the one who sang? Or was that your sister? You, in your blue Sunday coats buttoned tight! Let me think while I twist my leaves so they can better face the sun. Let me bide on it while I wake the bats, the woodpeckers, who hide in my trunk. I live in two worlds – the air and the ground – and what I don’t know isn’t worth knowing. I’m famous for being slow to waterlog – that’s why they use me for ships and for clogs – so yes, cry on my shoulder. Did you know that prayers made under me go straight to heaven? Now. Letting go is a trick we all must master. It’s like when one of my branches has started to fall; it takes months, saying goodbye, as its weight slowly tears; then one day, it drops. I may hear a thud. I may not. So, write down what you know. Share what you understand. What else can you do? Wipe your tears, wash your face in the water pooled at my roots; it will make your little fists open, help you let go of whatever it is that you’re holding too dear.

This magical beechwood is part of Skipton Woods, North Yorkshire

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