The Beseeching Tree

I was out with a friend new to the neighbourhood on summer solstice, pointing out various species of plant and tree. She was particularly interested in identifying beech trees. After she dropped me off I pulled a reference book off the shelf, The Celtic  Wisdom of Trees  by Jane Gifford. It ‘s an interesting compendium of  tree folklore. You would have thought, being a words person and nature lover, I would have earlier discovered that the beech tree is considered the tree of the written word. Early inhabitants of this island used a cuniform alphabet based on trees, known as crann ogham (say it crawn oh-am). The bark was the biodegradable tablet first used.   Gifford points put that the Anglo-Saxon for beech is boc and is etymologically related to the German for book. At any rate, I now understand why a beech tree in the Cavan Burren woods  is my very favourite tree in the world. Bookworm that I have always been, the beech would naturally have a gravitational pull for me.   I love it’s portal into the underworld/undergrowth, and it’s being slightly askew.

One of the customs Gifford mentions is writing a wish on a beech leaf. Which became the jumping off point for poetry practice this morning. And then my plans for the day include disappearing into a novel. Which is how one should spend the day of rest to my way of thinking.

The Beseeching Tree

Write your wish on a leaf
with a Sharpie,
it round flatness unfurled,
the very first page on earth
for the written word.
It lifts and twirls on air,
flying from its woodland lair.
Snatch them! Collect those leaves
before they disintegrate.
Bind them in bark
with a spell. Seal their fate.
Let the words be as straight
as beech's strong back,
their roots as deep
and wide as the mushrooms field
blooming beneath her feet.
Words grow ground up.
Beech is the first paper and page.
Her twig finger is the first pen
tracing shapes from ether to earth them.
Her bark is the first book.
Broadcast the written word
north, south, east, west
as profligate and plentiful as beech's mast.
Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

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