Climate Breakdown

EarthQuaker Issue 95

It was the kind of conference
that includes a wandering-about slot.

So I went out into the still grey afternoon
along the gravel path. Only a short way,

leaving for another day the lake, the lawns,
the neatly-mown labyrinth, the smiling statue.

I was to stand beneath the huge copper beech,
my back against the smooth bark, my feet on the roots

like a child being walked on Daddy's feet...

I'd have liked to press myself into the trunk
until it allowed me in, down through phloem, cambium,
sapwood, to the heartwood. I wanted to be papery

and vacant like a drifted leaf.
I'd have liked the roots to tug me down

under the soil, where the hyphae
could wind around my body and turn me

into nutrients. Nothing happened. There was no wind.
The canopy embraced a vast volume of quiet air,

branches swept low on all sides. Half-hidden,
I clung and cried out

silently to be forgiven. Though I've persisted
in my vandalism long after I understood

what I was doing wrong, though nothing changed,
I sensed the tree
         on behalf of all life
                                 gravely allow my apology.

Stevie Krayer
(Published in ARTEMISpoetry magazine, November 2022)