The Orestan Oak

(edited 17th March 2021)

communing with nature; a tribute to, and a potted history of the Orestan Oak, a magnificent tree which stands guard at the top of the lane.


we pass it, the dogs and I, every day

as they strain leashed down the steep hill

scrambling to reach their place to shit,

then cock their scent into its roots,

which radiate deep, rise and coil

eye-browed above turned soil and tarmac.

I wait stopped, follow the sculpture –

 branches splintering the dawn sky,

brittle arms yearning, stretching far,

tips spanning both road and time,

its memories stored in each ring

of flesh that’s been slowly layered;

its planting by the Armada’s First Lord,

sleek hansoms wheeling to the Manor,

sweated farmhands breaking at the Plough,

the outrageous Teddy trouping past

clearing the way for Gwen to pursue her love,

Barnes Wallis wondering “will it bounce?”,

travellers pitching a permanent camp,

the discrete weight of couples carving

their names into its crustaceous bark

(more recently marred by the words

“suck my dick” over a fading image

poorly graffitied of an ejaculating penis;

the testosteronic work of growing boys) –

and wonder why it holds, stills my eye;


It binds in simple knots earth to sky,

beneath my touch its tremors tuned

to the rhythm of the universal heart.

into its song I too am subsumed.


© Bhi 2023
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critique and comments welcome.
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A fine tribute to a fine species of tree
May it live a thousand years


Yes, I liked the rhythm, and the evocation of the lasting oak, against the passing human life around it. Not a criticism, but if it is historical in sequence I’d like to see Barnes Wallis prior to the Teddy, a minor nit pick for an otherwise arresting poem.



Ah! All explained – I think. So Gwen was a rival? And also Barnes Wallis was resident at one time? That tree has witnessed much that has passed.


Fascinating. Its almost tempting to ask where this delightful place is, but that might spoil its charm. We don’t have any famous former residents in our village.


If trees could talk. I also thought you were referring to a “teddy-boy.” I love trees, am working to learn every species where i live. Enjoyed the poem.

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