It takes a life to understand a tree.
You start by climbing high, by holding eggs
Like eyes in the curved eyelids of a young hand,
Then take away plump scratchy nests, still warm,
By thinking other things. Branches will wave
As though to seek your help, but then they go
Just like the ants and leaves marked hard with lines.
Summer will pass with rich dark smells of earth
And then the sound of wind in branches—yes,
That too will slide into the void you hold
With next door’s silky oak that vaguely sighed
One early morning, deep in the pulp of Spring,
Then fell on power lines and through a house.
It takes a life to understand a tree
But life climbs quickly, climbs with claws, and so
You haven’t stood beneath a tree for long
And all that’s left is a sparkle up there, high,
A glistening that you can hardly see,
That beckons you toward it, nonetheless,
And somehow tells you that there is no void.
Source: The ABC Book of Australian Poetry: a treasury for young people compiled by Libby Hathorn (ABC Books 2010)