It began with the two willows
in the vast back yard of my childhood.
Dad hung a swing from one
and I swung inside a green cocoon,
sky-dreaming in a trance.
And the black wattle over the garage —
the solid, spreading branches
made a seat for me, half way up,
out of Mum’s view. I played deaf
when she called me, reading till dusk.
Then there were the dark pines
edging my grandparents' fields
alongside the railway line,
like guardians for my cousin and me
as we played on hillocks of heath.
I remember that river gum
somewhere between Three Ways and Darwin,
off even that not-very-beaten track,
with the Territory’s warm winter sunlight
bleaching patches of trunk.
And the tree at the top of the paddock
at North Tumbulgum, past the dam,
right on the neighbour’s fence,
with a trunk too broad for my circling arms
and two lopped branches forming snakes’ heads.
These and many more. I have a forest
of trees, beloved, living inside my mind,
speaking to me forever after. Far-flung
individuals, their roots connect underground;
their branches join invisibly through air.
April PAD Challenge #10 Tree and/or Forest
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