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.
PARABLE OF THE WILLOW
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.