after Mark Tredinnick

Heaven feels imaginary, in these
penumbral days. Parents and children are
drifting like continents, detached from each
other, severed, wandering aimless, lost.
We walk in circles like arguments, or
cyclones, spinning past the deaths of culture
and hope in favour of our own image;
but mirrored there is sickness and shadow.
I seek solace in your roots, mother tree.
To rest a single hand against your bark
and feel the history flowing underneath,
while wondering how my own history is white
washed, how so much can be ignored, and how
even after death, you are still standing.

I stand here surrounded by my children,
their arms, their eyes, reaching towards heaven.
Time has stopped inside my sacred circle
where two hundred years of decay rise gently
in the air you breathe, the air we provide.
I remember back through deeper time when
I was honoured, I sheltered, I gave life
and was given life, another circle
lost to guns and hooves and agriculture.
I do not want to bury the pain, but
to bear it. We are not alchemists, child,
but we are transformed by what we survive.
History belongs to all of us. Peel the
years of veneer back, search the past for truth.

Once my kin and I were legion; our crowns
marked us royal, sentinels guarding the
family you struggle to understand.
Three times three hundred, reaching back and forth,
knowing pathways, threading under soil, a
show of unity in earth, air and stars.
Now highway hum rattles my core and I
brace myself for fiercer storms, harsher winds.
Progress slinks in with excuses to fell
the hallowed, but some would honour the old
ways of knowing. Take heart, young one; believe
in a future which learns from its actions.
Some rings are unbreakable; some cycles
have roots enough to shun mortality.

My youth remembers more of you—faded
by time’s passage; your disappearance has
crept up on me. I am a breath to you,
a moment slipped through your branches like wind.
Fear and hours move differently in our veins.
I recognise my emptiness, and search
for ways to brace tunnels of ignorance
that I may fill them with the essence I
feel coursing within our shared heartspace. Help
me remember, mother tree. Help me learn
the slower, deeper life and how to hold
it in my hands like sunlight or water.
Show me how to build a future that is
like you—wise, connected, unbreakable.

© Amanda McLeod, 2022