MD Kerr

In the woods

Traditional trenta sei

Text of the poem

I know what itís like not to walk in the woods in spring,
how the celandine open unseen and the bluebells curl
their bells into stars and shrivel. The blackbirds sing
through the dusty window: a chirrup, a trill, and a skirl,
but out in the woods, the aspens are rushing unheard,
all the quiet hopes of hawthorn froth deferred.

How the celandine open unseen and the bluebells curl
without your eyes, when time has stopped, remains
a mystery: it hurts, to feel the speedwellís whorl
of leaves on the meadow growing without you. The lanes
must be thick with Queen Anneís Lace. Youíre watching the walls
and splitting in two like a seed with the sap that calls

for their bells and stars, and shrivel. The blackbirds sing
and you flick through your pictures of flowers. Is the comfrey out?
Itís just this year, you think, but every spring
is entirely different and whole new branches sprout.
You need to see how the crows and red kites parry, you
need to be in the woods. So come, Iíll carry yu

through the dusty window, through chirrups and trills and a skirl,
into the greenish glow of the fairy wood
with the Queen Anneís Lace waist-high, where the birches twirl
their trunks to the sky to seal us in leaves. If we stood
here a year, we would slowly learn to discern their hum
of roots underground and pulsing trunks, but come Ė

on the edge of the wood, the aspens are rushing unheard
and awaiting our earis Ė but wait, the relic stumpís
at the end of this path, all ivy Ė did you see that bird?
A tit or a wren, silhouetted Ė you see how it jumps
We canít see its colours, can you tell what it is by its trill?
And onward! I know that the Erl-Kingís Wood will fulfil

all your quiet hopes of hawthorn froth. Deferred
delights are for Freud and for people who canít rejoice
over every individual bluebell Ė Iím sorry, thatís blurred.
Thatís better: as crisp as the chirruping giving voice
to the green, to the blossoms, to the trees in their quiet eurythmy Ė
each time I go walking, my darling, Iím taking you with me.

Thanks to The Writers' Greenhouse for the prompt to write a trenta-sei around a particular anniversary.

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