The Year of the Tree

West Chester mayor Dianne Herrin has proclaimed 2018 “The Year of the Tree.” Along with their esthetics, shade, and feeling of urban comfort, trees are a great way to cleanse impurities and also CO2 out of the air.

In honor of trees, then, here is a poem by Katherine Gallagher, born in Australia and living in England, The Guardian in 2012. See also the nicely done video here. The poem was published in Carnival Edge: New and Selected Poems (2010).

The Year of the Tree
by Katherine Gallagher

I carried a tree
through the Underground.

It was hard. At first,
people scarcely noticed me

and the oak I was lugging
along the platforms –

heavier than a suitcase
and difficult to balance.

We threaded through corridors,
changing lines: up and down stairs,

escalators, and for a moment
I imagined everyone on the planet

taking turns
to carry a tree as daily rite.

A few people asked
Why a tree?

I said it was for my own
edification –

a tree always
has something to teach.

Sharp gusts
whirred through the corridors

rustling the branches
as I hurried on

past the sweepers
picking up rubbish, scraps of paper.

Be sure to take the tree
with you, they said.

Don’t worry, I’m taking it
to my garden,

the start of a forest.
When people stared,

Relax, I said,
it’s a tree, not a gun.


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