‘They took all the trees
And put ’em in a tree museum’
—Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi
The exhibit is fully interactive. I sit on a chair (Maple),
resting my arms on the sturdy wide plank (Red Oak)
which I use as a desk. On my right, a pencil pot
(Cherry, downed in a storm) and a coaster (Cork Oak)
on which I place my tea (Cinnamon). In front of me,
on the window frame (Hickory), hangs a square pink
sticky-note (Hemlock) with today’s vexing quotation
hand-lettered with a No. 2 pencil (California Cedar).
I print words on uniform white sheets of A4 size
(Spruce, Aspen, Birch), piled in stacks which rustle
in the breeze from the open window. I weigh them down
with a chunk of petrified wood (extinct conifer, now quartz)
from a vast forest which grew two hundred and twenty-five
million years ago, on land which is now a desert.
A box (Larch) of facial tissues (Eucalyptus) waits
at my elbow ready for use on my eyes, which stream
due, probably, to blowing pollen (Willow, Alder, Ash).
For waste disposal, a bin (Indonesian Teak) is placed
at my feet, next to corrugated boxes (Plantation Pine)
full of more printed sheets, some now yellowing.
A shelf (Beech), on my left, holds pages of poems,
bound in books with colourful spines—all trees, trees
within trees, some are even about trees, all archived
alphabetically by author. These I shelter in, feel them
with me, reaching for light. But there isn’t enough time,
only a blank calendar (Fir) noting day, month, year,
hanging next to a clockface (Yew) of narrow irregular
concentric rings, tiny hands ticking away the hours.
Heidi Beck lives near Bath. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The North, Under the Radar, Brittle Star, Butcher’s Dog, Finished Creatures and The Alchemy Spoon. Twitter @HBpoet / Instagram heidi.beck.9699