The storms last February blew down one of a pair of old pine trees which stood by the river in a communal field. I was asked to write a poem for the tree as the village intended to have a commemorative ceremony and plant a new tree. So here it is:
To a Fallen Pine
‘...trees don’t ache or weep or shout.
And trees are all this poem is about.’
- Two Trees by Don Paterson
Two trees - tall, evergreen and fine -
you and your companion framed
this river, sky, and railway line.
Today the passing water’s calm,
no ripples now recall the named
and brutal February storms,
which snapped in two your back and boughs,
left you horizontal, waiting
for our ministry of chainsaws. Now
teardrop clusters, scaly cones,
are cradled in your fallen limbs,
all asking to be carried home
by saddened kids to plant anew
and so rebirth another tree,
a fir-cone seedling clone of you.
And what to do with all this wood,
sawn from your trunk and canopy?
A rustic arbour might be good,
a sheltered bench to fix the view
which you, so steadfast, gazed upon -
the flood and draw of tides, curlews
with their shiver-song, the sea-pies
banking left and right in unison.
Those piping birds alight beside
your other half who on her own
(like one of all old married pairs)
must now face future storms alone.
To such a memorial seat,
made big enough for two to share,
could be attached a plaque that reads:
You loved this spot, the river view;
grew just as tall as you could do
then fell to earth in twenty-two,
survived by one who mourns for you.