Platanus x hispanica at Ely, 10th August 2019
The bark of venerable trees
Is sometimes carved with names of lovers,
Wedding dalliance to eternity.
For constancy, like spun time, seems tented there.
And though the ‘Glorious’ revolution
Marked this plane at Ely’s sapling years,
A sense of moments weighed
Has settled with the centuries.
All turbulence absorbed,
Its branches cradle steady thought.
Such stillness lifts one’s gaze
To where the blue is spangled
By palmate leaves and dangling fruit:
A glimpse of heaven screened.
This easy dappling intensifies
The mottling on the peeling trunk,
Where weariness is shed
And freshness stretched instead
Around the bole. Leaves stir,
And the quickening shadows’
Play upon the lawn
Wakes wraiths of memories…
Some neat ecclesiastical conundrum
Has dean and bishop locking amicable horns.
A daughter of the palace
Here first learns the chaplain’s stuttered ardour.
The gardener’s boy had sworn he would return
But weeps when, limping home,
He sees the tree stripped bare for winter,
Though Versailles’s been signed
And cathedral bells not whining shells
Are ringing in his ears.
Faint now, these shades fade,
Gently eclipsed by this day’s bright occasion:
No lovers’ slight flirtation
But a date firm anchored
With solemn vows now sealed
And shared dreams seeded.
The image of this august tree
Will now be stamped indelibly
Upon a newly minted memory:
The currency of lasting happiness,
Free to spend in recollection.