Tuesday, 14 June 2016

A Poem: Tree Woman

I think it will become obvious, if you keep reading my blog, or have looked at my art on Redbubble, that I have something of an obsession with trees … and increasingly birds too, but let’s not get sidetracked …

I haven’t written much poetry, but occasionally an idea or image demands to be written in that form, and I can only obey.

This poem was, on the whole, inspired by the Jeanette Winterson quote below. However, as I noted beside the first draft in my notebook, I was also thinking of a sad little Japanese folktale called ‘Willow’, about a man who marries a woman who is the spirit of a much-loved willow tree (found in Collected Folk Tales (2011) by Alan Garner).  

Tree Woman

‘There are plenty of legends about women turning into trees but are there any about trees turning into women?’
~ Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

I saw a woman in a tree.
There was something 
in the curving form of the trunk,
the grace of the branches,
the head-held-high canopy.
She had weeping willow leaf hair—
sunlit green—
welcoming arms,
and a blush of lichen 
on her cheeks.
She cast an elegant, 
if hairy, shadow,
with lush limbs 
reaching out to me,
beckoning me 
to worship below her
(as if at an altar),
and to climb, 
to reach as she does
towards the encircling sky, 
wrapped around the Earth’s orb.

I went to sit in her shade,
to gaze up and admire her beauty
and the way she attracted—
with looks alone—
birds and butterflies and breezes.
What if I could have such beauty, 
such bearing?
Could I turn green?
Could I offer my flowers 
to passing bees?

Such generosity!

If I sit here for long enough 
perhaps I will become 
a small patch of moss,
growing at her feet.
I will grasp her and 
she will embrace me,
two lovers of the green, 
growing together,
held close 
in verdant sisterhood.
A euphoric union 
in the sun and shade,
wind and rain.

White Tree II, 2005


  1. So beautifully written and such a beautiful story in your poem. Thank you, Therese.


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