A writer, in his Borges mode, crushes daisies with
his bare feet, wants to write: trees are big lungs -
to prove it, he was going to point out the shadow
of a tree, how its branches break into bronchioles,
sucking up the air; however the theory collapses
when he ponders what exactly does a tree inhale
and exhale: the reverse process of anything animal,
and a lung, as everyone knows, is pure animalia.
Then comes a recovery, into sweet rose beds,
colours striking the eye in motion, sitting among
pine needles beside daisy heads, bird trills,
a vision of a tree springs from the roadside,
fills the eyes with thought and greenery, roses
consigned to affluent herbs: this tree is the real thing,
itís European, it has green cones, its branches drip
like a cobweb dunked in honey, it looks like a web, no,
not a lung, a web covering the sky in green - well,
the patch of space that would be there in the treeís
absence - a giant spiderís web - except thereís
this dark structure underneath (Chomsky), which even
a spider web doesnít need - the dark bits
are the branches, but weíre supposed to look
for the cones - have you ever seen a branch fall
and wondered what would have happened
to the people who could have sat there?
who would you have sat under the breaking tree?
do you know where we are now? In Parnell,
on a hill to the side of the rose gardens, sniffing
because Iím slightly allergic to the scents
created here - here at the instigation of Paula
Green who lives close by, who Anne is visiting
while I take time to write; I used to stay above
Judgeís Bay so can piece the bits out of my line
of sight - the corner of the old white church
with the picket fence, the bay bisected by the water
front causeway; Devonport and beyond, to islands
and more islands, until sea dominates to the extent
that land is five parts to every thousand parts
sea, which raises the greatness of our navigators,
and reminds me of the ornamental status of the ti tree
here, despite the breath-taking sweet of the scene,
the rose lollies, icing cake church, green webbing
of pretty trees - itís like a cuckoo in a deep woods,
or a pianist popping from a grave - the place is
a mess, a carnival, not serious enough to be funny,
not funny enough to delight, not scary enough to frighten
the history out into dazzling daylight justice,
the justice of putting the place right.



© Robert Sullivan 1996

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