Eileen Neil

The Heart of a Tree

The heart of a tree is its very centre,
dead but durable. An ancient strength
as the new wood grows around it,
sap rising in xylem and phloem flowing,
leaves emerging one by one. Each one
a miniature harnesser of aeons old sunlight
photons, transformed one by one into oxygen
by the power of the living green.

My heart, I know is alive and mortal.
A vulnerable strength, as my body ages
around it. Utterly dependant on
oxygen, water, earth and this aeons old sunlight.
Utterly dependant on these trees
which are being decimated as I
write. My heart beats for now.
I do not know what the future holds.

10 million hectares of trees cut down this year.
1 football field of forest every second.
The heart of a tree is its very centre.
Dead, as I may be dying,
Breath by slow breath.

Who Names the Trees?

A dead seal lay on the beach this morning
stranded on the sand, bloated grey beneath
the great blue heaven. The crumbling sand
was splattered with broken shells, and the fresh scent
of the seaweed mixed with the salt on my lips
while the salty oystercatchers waded sedately
along the shifting tideline, probing
between the breaking waves for their lunch.

The gulls shrieked the sermon of the mountains
And I heard them so clearly, like they were
blessing the pure and meek and left behind
creatures, who were vanishing swiftly into
the dwindling forests of oak, elder, rowan, hazel, ash…….

Maybe it was heat, or drought or plastic
that killed the seal, you said
Or even climate change.
Who knows?

And as for those dwindling forests….
Who is it that names the trees, anyway?

Eileen Neil

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