The Ash Tree by Sally Potter

The Ash Tree

Gathered on the grass in your mottled, welcome
shade down at the end of the sweltering garden,
we toast the newlyweds’ happiness here. Glorious tree!
I gaze up at your tiny twigs and bright leaves’ tracery
against the summer sky. Beneath your cool umbrella
I’ll rock each new-born’s pram, push the swing ever-higher
as summers pass, tell the children stories of you long ago,
a sapling struggling in a long-lost hedgerow.

Your fine foliage will fade and flutter down
upon the see-saw, slide, the trampoline, around
your ivy-clad, divided trunk, the pond
where every spring we’ll hunt for tadpoles, tiny frogs
and signs of life among the bulbs we planted at your base
before the snows brought jauntily-dressed snowmen, keeping pace
in stature with the children. I feel you keep the family safe,
that you watch over them, magnificent, strong ash.

But now we shiver, gathered here to watch the moon’s eclipse
beneath your curving limbs’ black lacework, your tapering tips
pointing to the starry sky. They’re moving on. I stoop to gather leaves
to press and keep, to try to stop the stabs of sharp, surprising grief.

January, 2018

Thank you to Sally for this heartfelt poem about the relationship between an Ash Tree and her family. (paired with a photo of my son and his friend in their own favourite Ash Tree).

Sally writes:

‘I try to convey the beauty of the ash and its connection to our family, but I would be very pleased if sharing the poem could help in some small way to publicise why trees matter to us, the need to save these beautiful trees from ash die back and protect future trees, and the importance of current efforts to plant more forests.’

Published by James Aldridge

Visual Artist and Consultant, working and playing with people and places. Based in Wiltshire, UK

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