Iain Twiddy

3 Poems

Sweeney’s Trees

When Sweeney praises the trees,
the big-sea heaving of the oak,
the crimson-splashed ash,
the birch that hoards the moonlight,

and the alder, sheltering elder brother
above the briars’ shady clutches,
the whisper-shivery, wind-flashed aspen,
the hazel full of autumn,

and bow-backed gathers of apple trees,
holly bringing winter’s sting,
and the blackthorn, gemmed with juicy sloes
that in rain outshine the rowan,

I reach like a man to the canopy
for the words to breeze the boughs,
give breath to earth, to highlight like leaves
in final flourish evening sun

against the dark heavily descending;
but the forms have disappeared,
which leaves me somewhere between a man
compacting into overspill,

crushing the fluted body of a bird,
and a bird panic-flitting
the cathedral aspiration of a man, instinct
there must be some way out;

I reach as if the sheets of a psalter
better held the integral beauty
(knowing full well that they were vellum)
of any of the deep-beloved trees

that lifted Sweeney’s spirit into praise.


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