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.
A fine tribute to a fine species of tree
May it live a thousand years
G, It is a fine tree – I will post a picture of it – and we pay homage to it every day.
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.
All the people mentioned lived in the village and the “Teddy” was an American actress who rented a cottage on the common and scandalised society with her goings’ on in the 1920’s.
But glad you liked the rhythm.
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.
Barnes Wallis among others lived in the village. He was an interesting man; his correspondence with his wife, who was 17 years his junior, was fascinating; he courted her by teaching her maths – that was the only way her father would allow the relationship.
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.
CW, I’ll have to clarify the “Teddy” line by including her full name.
Trees are fascinating and warm beings. I am about to write another poem on the 700 year old Yew which stands in front of one of the oldest churches in our county.