Old Oaks in Winter

Old oaks in winter, emblems

Of a stiffening guise – we search, we find

Expression of a stature wrung from-out-inside

Prefiguring a figured grain exposed to moaning pains

And mourning gyves

 

Arms twisted, elbows crook’d, extension all but blind

Into an offering space remits its circumstance described

Lost leaves below, time-trodden trash, spread carpets wet

Loamy and littering; with other brother trees’ recourse

Discarded from long summers over-gone,

All lately done, as though recanted upon remorse

 

Up-bearing bent bare limbs ascend, prevented of a course

Of forward growth; no more than but an inch of life

Summoning, surviving.

Their upper stories writhe, bear strain increase

Wheeled by brusque eastern winds whipping through leaden skies

A cold conniving

Hostilities of harshness raw-incising

Ferocities of boldness chafe, hard-driving

 

Old emblem oaks emblems of merry mankind’s

Time of age

Looking up into heavens reach, arms stuck out making pleas,

Despite greatcoated grey and overcast rolled clouds;

Nature defying

Against the candour contrary of all appearance

Surprises, claims itself, awakes a prayer effectual

Flung upwards, as is hope on mercy, old men crying

And women too, a whole commitment, restitution,

To recover God

 

What opens suchlike blighted, wizened, blistered oaks?

What throws the curvy earth’s swung surface under staggering tropes?

Bringing in winter of the year, thereafter spring unfolding

Buries with buds against the hard stone-cold; comes death-defying

Relenting of venting sufficient scathe on hoar-filled trees

A passion presenting that they might live, beget reprieves

Preventative of extinction, a great revisitance apart

Active comes in to occupy a soul’s long-voided place;

A world’s restart with feted, wished-for, spark

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