The inter-web

Tegan Gigante

 

Inspecting the nectarine tree

beside the front gate

I discover green newborn leaves.

The blossoms have almost all fallen,

their brief burst of cocktail pink

now carpets the mulch beneath.

Already I miss their decoration,

though the green heralds fruit to come.

 

The following day,

I notice the leaf-curl:

fire-coloured convolutions

that threaten the promised crop.

Plucking the twisted leaves

I am briefly sorry to deny

the bacterium’s claim to life.

 

The next time

I pay close attention to the tree,

the leaves have grown full –

so has the disease – and now,

the branches host clusters of aphid families.

Another breach of national security.

I tweezer a few between my fingers

in ineffectual spite.

 

Later, I spy ladybirds

feasting on the aphids,

methodically consuming

the tiny insects.

 

I have taken sides.

 

The web continues to expand.

There is now a stream of ants

snaking up the branches,

neutral agents

that depend on tree and aphid

while harming neither.

They drink the sweet gems

of clear, bright faeces

as it emerges from the nesting aphids;

and fend off hungry ladybirds in return.

 

The aphids need the tree

and the ants who protect them;

ladybird and ant

depend on both aphid and tree;

the bacterium eats the tree,

and isn’t much bothered about anyone else.

The tree depends on me to water, feed and mulch,

and I need the tree to fruit –

no leaf-curl, no aphid, no ladybird, no ant.

 

But this is not a closed loop:

I watch the ants delve

into their hidden home,

networks beneath my feet

and beyond my vision.

I can no more enter their nest

than see a boundary

where the tree might end.

 

 

Tegan Gigante lives in Central Victoria. She convenes PoetiCas, Castlemaine’s monthly poetry event, and programmes monthly lectures for the Bendigo Philosophical Society. She has completed a Masters thesis on the function of traditional poetics, and co-authored the collection I Will not Fall (Tinder Press, 2013). Tegan also performs poetry to accompany music with the band White Rabbit.

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