Suckling pigs

Aden Rolfe

 

1.

 

What is a tree

if not a seed’s way of making

another seed

 

a forest’s way of hiding

in plain sight? Within its folds

you might learn something useful

like ‘a boar betrays itself by rustling’

or ‘a log is never simply a log’.

On its flank a fungus grows

without need of a name

 

at least

not any you can speak out loud. In the

absence of words, is it perception

that brings things into being? Then again

the trees get by just fine without you

branch after branch reaching out

to take you by the throat

 

cut the thread.

 

If every one had a bite taken

from it, would the essence of the apple

change? You could call off the hunt, bring

on the harvest, but you’ll never make

a silk purse from salad greens. Nor

will you swindle a sweeter prospect.

You must simply accept that one day

you’ll wake to find yourself looking up

from a platter on which your head

has been served—

 

as it is with moments

so with empires. For now though

you lie there, thinking

 

the length of the night

is a problem only for those

who can’t sleep.

 

2.

 

As a tree is already a metaphor.

As you carve your initials into the trunk.

As though you ever had a choice.

 

As a delicacy paired with fennel and cabbage.

As you sniff out truffles in the soil.

As a shortcut is a side of ham.

 

As green wood burns reluctantly.

As a wound, trying to close.

As a promise supposes intention.

 

As a hole is known by what it doesn’t have.

As a tree takes priority over your idea of it.

As it is in itself

and continues to be.

 

 

Aden Rolfe is a Sydney-based writer. His debut poetry and essay collection, False Nostalgia, received the 2017 Mary Gilmore Award and was named by Mascara the best avant-garde poetry book of 2016. His poetry has been published in the Age, Best Australian Poems, Overland and Cordite.

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