Certain Trees

One tree pretends to throw things
and the wind goes sprinting, then skids, turns –
ha! sucked in again, old wind!

One tree chooses to be apart,
like a door halfway up a wall.
My window groans with the weight

of trees
staking their territory. Humpbacked trees,
shipwrecks of trees

with piano keys inside
like the Titanic. Certain trees sway
holding lighted leaves up

as a voice sings out of a man
inside my neighbour's radio
why you on your own tonight? 
The ones you shun always come back 

to sing at you.
Certain trees reach for a woman
who is handing washing to the wind, a shirt

by the arms, pants by the waist, socks
by the feet;
            handing over parts of the body has never
            been so easy.

The wind sprints past the window again
            it gets dark quickly
and certain trees reach for me.

Ashleigh Young is a writer and editor living in Wellington. Her work has appeared in BooknotesTurbineSport, and Landfall. She is currently writing a series of personal essays and a small collection of poems. Ashleigh was the winner of the 2009 Landfall Essay Competition and the recipient of the 2009 Adam Foundation Award in Creative Writing.

Young comments: 'I wrote this poem when I was living on my own and listening to a lot of The Smiths – never a very healthy combination. Maybe Morrissey got into my bones and I got a bit miserable. I had the sense that I was shrinking and the world outside was growing and becoming more animated – especially the trees, these prickly, wonky, very anti-picture-book trees. The more time I spent alone in my little flat, the more persective I lost, and those trees began to seem quite powerful. I suppose it was a bit like when you're a kid and convinced that aliens are hiding under your bed or behind the curtains. It makes no sense now, but it made perfect sense at the time. The line "Why you on your own tonight?" is from a Smiths song.'

Poem source details >



New Zealand Electronic Text Centre: Sport archive online to issue 36
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