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From: Vol.07 N.01 – Plant Poetics

The Trees

by Stuart Cooke

are probably the largest selves in the forest


but they are also the most obvious:

forthright, upright, they accord immediately

with the human vertical; as they grow

they wrinkle;

when cut, they bleed.

They could be frozen versions

of our ideal selves: grander,

slower, wiser.


Look at them gathered, their patient multitudes.

Beneath tinnitus, beneath breathing,

their song’s a dark web through the earth.

The highway whines; the trees dispel, gently as sunset.


You can walk among them, you can touch

or talk to them, they won’t run.

Some you can even climb, but others

will tremble with your weight—then,

as their limbs give way, the sound’s

of frozen muscle ripped apart.


Slowly they slip behind each other.

Slowly, the forest folds and unfolds.


Knowledge congealed again and

again into the singular.


Can you see their stripes? Gnarled ridges of space,

wound cables of time.

They yearn for the steps to Being.

Their greatest, collective achievement: the shape of gravity.

‘Commitment’ is meaningless: they might waver, but they’d sooner die than depart.


Reaching, shedding their becoming,

climbing the tower of Being.


Slowly, the forest expands into leaf-cumulus;

in its crannies and billows it creates universes.

Here are the trees, guardians of dimensions.


Through the crystal lattice of time, light cracks.

Published: March 2020
Stuart Cooke

Stuart Cooke’s latest poetry collection is Lyre (UWAP, 2019). In early 2020 he was the BR Whiting Fellow in Rome, Italy. He lectures in creative writing and literary studies at Griffith University.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.