Branching out

Himalayan (or Bhutan) Cypress:
Cupressus torulosa D.Don
ACT Tree Register: Kingston v1-46 RT0251A

There was a time, in Canberra’s formative days,
when Government Printing Office staff
talked family, footy, stamped out cigarettes
in you and your siblings’ youthful shade.
Now, there’s close to 100 rings assembled
under that intricate bark, and you’re branch-by-brick
friendly with these trendy apartments, residents
conversing on balconies, firing up their Webers.
And your foliage has unfolded, a style typical
of your species as that tightly clasped cone
chills out with maturity, gifting light through dark,
sun and moon filtered rather than swallowed.

Indeed, a certain Buddhist hospitality has emerged
in the way your branches span the gaps
(perhaps from your Himalayan heritage!),
rapid transit for pesky possums to scamper
tree-pergola-balcony to smorgasbords of pot plants,
and how you offer meeting stations
for larger birds: gang-gangs, galahs, magpies,
peewees, wattlebirds, currawongs, rosellas . . .
We watch a sulphur-crested grip an ovoid seed cone
in her claws, cracking the hard-faced, phalanx shields
with her keratin beak, nibbling nutrients. Chirping,
dark eyes fey-wicked, she rips away deep-green,
pine-like needles, clump by clump by clump.

She and we follow their soft, floating voyage
down, gently wilding the footpath, wilding our lives.

© Tony Steven Williams, 2021