The Phantom Trees

Margaret Bradstock

 

“You may be assured planning approval for this project includes strategies to minimise its impact on existing vegetation and the environment.”

– Minister for Transport and Infrastructure

 

It never ends, this extinction of the planet, until it ends.

Yes, there is outrage. We wrote letters, signed petitions

attended rallies and demos, reinvented ourselves on xerox.

On Valentine’s Day we sent a floral heart

to that tin man, our Premier

but the answer came back the same:

two trees to be planted for every small tree removed,

eight for every “significant” tree, to arrive on trucks

bulk delivered, for mass plantings, silhouetting

a pre-determined landscape.

 

Will they be Moreton Bays, eucalypts, Port Jackson Figs

or designer trees, fast-growing patio plants

(preferably not native) to break up the ugliness

of railway tracks and concrete high-rise? Few of us

will be here to see the outcome, stand in vanishing shade,

breathe thinner oxygen, in a photosynthesis

more intricate than lungs.

 

Phantom trees like shadowy stage-props

burgeoning at the edges of their minds.

 

Margaret Bradstock has six published collections of poetry, including The Pomelo Tree (winner of the Wesley Michel Wright Prize) and Barnacle Rock (winner of the Woollahra Festival Award, 2014). Editor of Antipodes: poetic responses to ‘settlement’ (2011), Margaret won the national Earth Hour poetry competition in 2014, and the Banjo Paterson Award in both 2014 and 2015.

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