MD Kerr

Silence

Free verse

Text of the poem

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A conversation under the mulch
under the loam
where living roots spread and tangle like fingers through hair
and the fungal network passes whispers
in earthy darkness. Thorn trees send warning –
the kudu are taking too much! –
and all the surrounding trees
graceful and sly
rush their leaves with bitterness.
Dusty plumes rise from hooves
as the antelope, sulky, retreat, and underneath
the trees hold roots like hands.
Walk into woods to commune with the trees
and they’ll hiss to each other about you.
If they’re scared, they’ll scream
outside your hearing
within your skin
and wolves, dark fairytales,
the threat of Tolkienish spidery forests, all crawl
a prickling unease along your spine:
“Leave!” the trees are roaring
and you do
uncertain why. A conversation, deep murmurs
that started before the first pendulum clock
to continue long after all the clocks are soil again, unless
a single, heavy truck thunders through,
and every tree left standing alone
appalled by silence.

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