In recognition of National Poetry Day, I enclose a  poem by my colleague and friend, Alexander Hutchison. He advises me that the meaning within may well chime with his fellow academics, and that the willow in question is not singular, but  is actually a pair.The poem is featured in the current issue (no 25) of The Dark Horse , which also carries a review of Scales Dog.


Too much snow toppled

me last winter: two thirds

(more like four-fifths) of my

root system torn and tipped

out of the ground. Someone

should have shaken my top

branches or taken the weight

off elsewhere: all those trailing

yellow-green, tufted withies.

Now, though, I just continue

otherwise: kneeling forward,

propped on an elbow of grounded

upper trunk, dispatching here

and there some surreptitious

rooting saps that procreate in

points of good connection; getting

by on less than half and half again

of what stood straight and fully

fixed the year before.

Wry smile after deep groan

is more my style than weeping.

Finger touches gripping tight

to stay me up: and taking just

enough to keep me going. After

all, I’m not a carpenter’s delight;

and not much good as wood

for the fire – I sputter and spark.

Measly heat with mounds of ash.

But cut and woven out of coppice,

wicker shelters, baskets, lobster pots

and plaited fences spurn the worm.

While cricket bat blades (the handle’s

cane) may smack or waft the ball away.

From root to osier-tip, utility.

Reduced to fine, smooth charcoal

I can fix your life in bright and dark

of chiaroscuro. Salicylic acid soothes.

My bark applied or boiled as juice

will ease a stound, assuage a pain

in ligament or joint. That’s solace

interlaced with healing. Wrap me

round your head for grief: from

severance you’ll make a start.

A spare green tenacity keeps me here.

Latch on to that at least from what

I say, and turn it to some use before

a gusting wind or wanton weight

of weather bowls you over too,

and bows you down just so.

Alexander Hutchison