Friday, June 30, 2006

Daphne in the Hedge

(Also posted at Festival of the Trees at Via Negativa.)

The landscaper pulls you from your hiding place,
Offers to drag you out by the roots.
He counts the trees hidden in the holly,
Spawn smuggled in by the wind,
Overpowering the azalea, thrusting
Differently-shaped leaves past a tidy green profile.

I told him no. I know your profile:
Young nymph fleeing from place to place
With Apollo in pursuit, Cupid's arrow thrusting
In his breast, lusting after you from the roots
Of his soul. And you, terrified, calling to the wind
And to the gods to save you from his unholy

Purpose. They changed you to a laurel, your wood holy
And rendered pure. Now my hedge bears your profile
In mongrel species once hidden from the wind
By conscientious trimming to keep you in your place,
Your wildness lopped at the crown, your roots
Probing the underworld with their relentless thrusting,

Proclaiming your untamed birthright. Now, chicks thrusting
From their eggs in a nest buried in the holly
Send us both back to our roots.
I stay clear of the nest and let your profile
Splay unchecked from tidiness, taking its place
High above the hedge, waving in the wind.

Daily the chicks scream into the wind
For food. Daily their parents oblige, thrusting
Moth and worm down tiny gullets. You take your place
As world-tree, bursting limb after limb through holly
Turned to sacred ground. Hiding that tender profile
Of nest. Letting new lives take root.

Eons away from Apollo's pursuit, your route
Is not an easy one. The rainforests wind
Down to devastation. Clear-cutting turns green profile
To brown. My kind encroach in droves, thrusting
Like the besotted god into your groves. Let my holly
Be a sanctuary, and when trimmed a hiding place,

Until the thrusting of your holy leaves
Again breach tamed suburban profile, in that place
Where we continue to let our roots run wild.

[end of entry]


Blogger Brenda Clews said...

Fabulous! The photo and your poem all of a whole. I love how you interconnect Daphne & Apollo & Cupid, emulating Ovid's style, with the laurel tree and the harsh life for a tree with landscapers, clear cutting, encroaching people. I love how you interconnect a story of a tree with mythology and with depth psychology, going deep into "Where we continue to let our roots run wild."

11:55 AM  

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