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27 October 2021

The NS Poem: A Tree

A new poem by Graham Mort.

By Graham Mort

You wake to chainsaws, the stink of sap, a tree’s
rib spraying into that neighbour’s garden.

You think sycamore, the one next to the amputated
ash that threatens your roof. You think fuck it

watching it shudder and fall, letting in sky after all
the stump-bone splintered. Gravity, finis.

The saws go on, slicing the trunk into splittables
taking off small stuff for the shredder. A tree:

its column of smoke in winter, brooding across
your book in August when sun hunkered behind.

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At one o’clock, a river enters your living room:
orange flames, a holocaust of forest green, its

pall coiling kilometres high. Brazil. Fake news.
You wonder how to unravel all that. A crane-fly

crashes on a web, legs buckling. The saws go on.
You close windows. The sound grows pale, more

spasmodic, more mute. It’s half-dark these days
after the equinox. Men back up their truck then

pull-start a chipper. The tree flies out in particles
its own god-forsaken myth – a snow-wraith

of the air, a ghost of its vertical self arcing into
dusk. You’ll still see it when it’s not there.

Graham Mort is a poet and academic based in North Yorkshire. His books include the poetry collection “Black Shiver Moss” (Seren) and the short story collection “Like Fado” (Salt)

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This article appears in the 27 Oct 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Our Fragile Future