When they stripped the ivy from the oak, he could see
the scar – the trunk’s flesh peeled away
to expose deep tissue, fibre pale as bone
where a limb was ripped by lightning
forty years ago.
Perhaps the oak had welcomed concealment,
the stranglehold of ivy, green
through all the seasons, all the years.
Watching from his bed the play of light
and shade, he pondered
how memories abide in trees – he recalled
thorns like bone needles, neatly paired,
glinting through the silver green of leaves;
the fissured texture of the bark;
as crescent moons; and how fiercely that day
he had focussed on the acacia, its details,
so that he did not have to look
at what was on the ground, nor at the vultures
above, in holding patterns.
‘Old Wounds’ was originally published in 192 Poetry Magazine.