Willow in Yellow

Disabled tree: once
You stood at my gate, your boughs, near bare,
Dissecting the air,
Cross-hatching the sullen spring clouds
With runnels of rough bark, all
Water sculpted.

Disabled tree:
Your thinning leaves
Made Chinese characters on the parchment light:
Pale willow patterns on the white,
Shifting and weeping
In the chafing wind.

Disabled tree:
Only the ivy drew you;
And grey moths dusty as graphite,
And slow black mould, coldly
Inscribing final words
On vainly rising roots.

Disabled tree:
Your sap had stopped,
The well of your ink dried up.
Knotty, wild and old, you were,
Yet not so cunning as to gainsay the stinging sentence
Of blade and bow-saw.

Disabled tree: once
You stood at my gate.
How I lament the loss
Of your feathered brushstrokes on the sky.
Now I lament your loss
To green-singing leafy thrushes.

© Lizzie Ballagher


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