Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday Poem: The Idea of Trees

The Idea of Trees

The cherry tree has had its last revenge,
its thirsty roots seeking out a crack
in the drainpipe, prising it wider.
We call the plumber to dig up the driveway.
We think we love trees, but we don't.
We are in love with the idea of trees,
try to make them fit the confines
of our tidy suburban plots of land.
They are not tame. We are surrounded
by their amputated limbs
where we try to keep them clear
of the gutters and power lines.
Remember the peach tree,
the one that the neighbours cut down
two summers ago? First they picked all the fruit,
arrived on our doorstep with overflowing bags.
Two weeks later we were still eating,
juice dripping down our wrists and elbows,
as we savoured the fruit
of a tree that didn’t exist.

copyright Catherine Fitchett


My final Tuesday Poem for the year. It should probably be something festive, given the season. At least this one mentions fruit - the cherries we associate with Christmas here in the southern hemisphere, and the peaches that will be ripening by late January and early February.

The poem appears in the latest issue of Takahe magazine, which should be hitting subscribers' mail boxes this week. It's a great magazine - one of the few in New Zealand (possibly the only one) - that still manages three issues a year, and well worth supporting.

The cherry tree referred to in the poem used to stand outside our back door. When we first came here, I didn't realise the fruit was edible. The birds always got to it as soon as a hint of red was showing, so we never had much chance. Eventually the tree towered over our two storey house, and one summer I found two very ripe cherries hiding under a leaf where the birds had missed them. They were delicious. After that we tried various ruses to protect some of the fruit from the birds, including netting, but they were very devious. Eventually we had to cut the tree down, because it was just too close to the house for such a large tree.

This is the last week of Tuesday Poem for 2011. It will return on January 17th. In the meantime, I hope to get in some writing time, along with the general relaxing in the sun that comes at this time of year.


Kathleen Jones said...

Loved the line about the juice running down the arm - Italian peaches are like that. We have threatening trees in England too - a line of beech, planted as a hedge that never got pruned and now towering over the house and leaning at a bad angle. One day we too will have to get out the chainsaw and kill the things we love!

Harvey Molloy said...

This poem reminds me of a friend's house--they once lived under the eaves of this massive pine. While I admired the tree they told me of the havoc the roots were playing with the plumbing and how it had to go. Now it's gone. Like Kathleen says sometimes we have to get out the chainsaw to what we love!

Helen Lowe said...

A landscape gardener friend would say this is entirely because we collectively plant inappropriate tree species ... I enjoyed the poem, Catherine.