The spin of leaves

Kristen Lang

 

1. shade

under tree fern – this light, hairy hide, neck of a grass-eater

reaching with its beard of moss and filmy ferns, how it

sways, wobbles under her palm, as wide

as her body, in the lively air – leaf glow

under sassafras, the greening of the sun, canopy

of lime, wrapped roots, mottled bones,

wind lending the girl all

of their fingers – fronds under branch

 

2. mountain

old gums thin     as saplings,    crammed

with mountain wind,     all-this-place

in their arms,     in root-stone and air-bark,

in the leaf-light, all     their skins, their greens

and pinks and browns,      made of silver

 

3. song

the twigs of the trees – stirrup  anvil  hammer

feed their palms, their green tips, their breath – we try but

cannot mimic them – into the sounds

of the light’s chorus

 

4. of an age

down the mid-trunk, how the bark and wood curls

in and apart, like lips, the mouth

opening, the old, old tongues breaking into buried

psalms, into rot, into hollows – possum nest,

bird home – the tree turning its core

into a part of the weather…   caw, says the raven

caw   caw, then silence, beak

in the crumbling, through the soft-bodied grubs

 

5. spent

all gap now   yearning     desertsoil andtoomuch     sky        greensong

stripped and broken       inhispalm     myrtle burl     step and   step

the coupe   deepcut     this     branchthis    trunk discarded      inhis

palm  he can sell     saladspoons    letterholders

 

6. tree talk

the woman   straying into the forest feels her feet

on the roots and soil like wings    in air currents    the trees

handing her one to the other   brushed   airy

in their whispers

the child is branch   slotted

into this    trunk like    clay joined

as an afterthought      child’s

talk    in the breeze

leaf-cry       eyes that are

pieces of sky

 

7. door jamb

the shrub’s tips and branch stubs bashed, whipped on the gum’s

heavy trunk – wind scars, tender on the thick-haired bark, the shrub

wiry in its count of storms… wrapped in the tree’s circles

 

8 lingering

in the crowd of the forest there are gums

white against the sky, not dead but

clinging – this one branch dripping emerald,

new wood nudged around the old,

greens and smears of red leaching

from a tendril of root,

earth-soaked, the sky, again,

through the dust of stones

 

 

Kristen Lang’s The Weight of Light (Five Islands Press) and SkinNotes (Walleah Press) were published in 2017. She won the ACU Poetry Prize in 2015 and was short-listed for the 2019 Dorothy Hewett Award. The Weight of Light was longlisted for the 2019 Margaret Scott Prize.

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