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Friday, 20 May 2011

Listening to the Trees

You could not prise "God's Representative" away,
no, not for all the prayers in Christendom,
not when he had those cans clamped to his ears,
when all the dials were dancing as he turned the knobs
and all the churchyard trees were in full song -
or maybe clattering like cotton mills
or chattering like teeth in Arctic blasts,
day after day, night after night and all year long.

His listening, begun way back
as a distraction, then became
in turn a pastime and the meaning of his life.
Applying probes and sensors to the chosen tree,
he'd "tune in" to a programme of delight.
(Living in the Vicarage, it seemed the natural thing
to use the churchyard trees for purposes so innocent.)


Alas, his fascination gripped him like Beelzebub Himself,
consumed him, body mind and spirit, totally.
I couldn't really censure him for that:
He played his tapes to me one evening, struck me dumb.
Could not believe what I was hearing. Talk
about not knowing our own planet. Those trees of his
are actual bloody cities, towns and villages!
Those trees, I said? All trees, I guess - for why
should they be different, those churchyard trees?
Except some thought they were... some villagers
came round to say the sounds were not of trees
but of the bodies down below among their roots!
They too, could not believe their ears, could not
imagine how such noises came
from those strong silent things;
from bugs consuming smaller bugs
beneath the bark; from cells exploding or
decaying, or from timber in its growth;
from buds unfolding; or from movements, natural
and constant, of both earth and air
and what these do to branches and to roots.
And as for what the juices do that flow,
you might be listening, for all that you could tell,
to pond life, to the glump and gurgle of some frenzied fish.
Cells that maintain osmotic pressure, for example,
fill with air; they slurp and suck and pop.
And did you know that all trees hum? Or that
they generate a range of ultrasounds?
It's fascinating stuff.


Eavesdropping on the dead some locals called it.
It got quite nasty for a while - until "God's Representative"
arranged a demonstration miles away, deep in the woods
and far from any grave. He played his Woodland Symphony.
There still were doubters, though,
who worried for their loved ones who had gone.
The Bishop was petitioned,
and he soon struck the practice dead -
ensured the churchyard residents could rest in peace.

11 comments:

anthonynorth said...

Excellent post. Life, death - all seem to echo throughout nature.

Jim Murdoch said...

Another wonderful story-poem. I see you changed 'the Rev' to 'God's Representative'. I actually think I prefer the former but both work in different ways. Perhaps you could use 'the Rev' in the last stanza and have the best of both worlds?

Mary said...

This is excellent. It played with my mind and made me wonder what all one can hear within trees and where sanity ends and insanity rebegins

120 Socks said...

'such noises from those strong silent things' is my favourite line. I love the mix of life and death, of complicated, yet simple communication.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

I think I love everything you write! Never pretentious and always so interesting!

Anna :o]

Titus said...

Again, Dave, the actual conception and imagination is so good, and then the poetry genuinely does it justice. I read stuff here I just could find anywhere else. Brilliant!

Windsmoke. said...

Another life beneath the bark who would have thought, very enjoyable indeed :-).

Adrian LaRoque said...

Excellent post Dave!

Ella said...

Interesting blur of reality and insanity. Well Done~

Dave King said...

anthonynorth
Absolutely, two sides of the same coin.

Jim
Much thanks for the response, and, yes, I did change "the Rev", I wasn't at all sure about it when I read it through after posting. I did also consider "rector", but quite like your idea of having the best of both worlds, though. I think I may do that.

Mary
Yes, the sounds are there, it seems. We may not be able to hear them all, but insects can and are attracted by them. The insanity seems imagined in this case.

120 socks
Yes, they are the two contrasts that first attracted me.

Hypercryptical
Thank you so much for that.

Titus
That's the kind of comment I - anyone would - love, but am never sure how to answer. Thank you.

Windsmoke
For some reason the phrase in your hands sounds very attractive. I could yearn for such a life myself!

Adrian
Many thanks

Ella
Hi, welcome to my blog. My thanks to you for visiting and for the comment.

Carl said...

I find myself oft struck dumb by the symphony of the forrest. the lyrical call of the streams and brooks. It is a siren song for me and can call me to the woods with my camera from a deep slumber. I have. been trying to capture the sound and feel of the streams and waterfalls with my pictures. It is really what drives me to keep going back.