Clues, Gardening, A Tree Explains What It Does

Llangernyw Yew Tree


So many clues I have missed along the way
that a scent of something other than
my own motion could have detected
and woven into a gossamer scaffolding.

What freshness in a pause left paused,
a sighting of loveliness left to itself,
a ray of light allowed to caress without comment,
a breath of tender movement gone unwashed by thought?

These are losses that I mourn with a start
when I am here long enough to ask more of time
than that it move and flatten all in its path.


I had forgotten that I was a gardener
until we bought a house with three yards—
two for keeping up appearances
and one to legitimately neglect.

Or at least that’s what the previous owner told me
as he stood staring at the far-away sun-dappled plot:
“I just let this go back here,” he said.
“You don’t need to do a thing, and it never needs mowing.”

And that’s just what I did the first few years
until half-starved for Earth’s intimacy
I rediscovered what can be grown in hard clay
if the need arises—my only option to stand still
and work with my hands close to my heart.

A Tree Explains What It Does

Sift wind,
slicing it to make
it sing under the
but coming from around
the base of
my trunk, where
dried rivers of bark
carve out what can
be heard
only if
you honour me
by sitting
my branches and
sharp-edged leaves
until you are
enough to listen
to what the
rings inside me
guard from year to year.

Stephanie Unger