Even more new McGonnagal

ODE TO THE BIRCH TREE IN THE GARDEN

 

Anyone can tell you’re a right beauty, an arbor-e-al stottir.

How was it that elegant white trunk with paper bark got to

Rise so sinuously vertical, and that other main limb climb

With it in perfect counterpoint? Each new branch has mimed

Its neighbours’ posture, curving more steeply as your height too

Increased, making an outline so classical that if you asked Plato

To draw the perfect form of a tree he’d have made an image mate to

Yours, the same inscribed on every leaf by its veins. Photosynthesis

Is their gift to you and me as they convert the energies

Of light into the sugars you require as food, and release

Oxygen to the planet. Simultaneously they decrease

The levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by fixing

It as carbohydrate. There’s an equation for this mixing:

CO2 plus H2 0 plus LIGHT gives CH2 0 plus O2

This is one of the ancient bases of life, and and woe to

The civilisation that neglects it. Below ground, invisibly

Your roots make common cause with varieties of sibling

Fungi to map the soil, communicate with other trees and find

the moisture needed by your leaves, that are designed

To suck it upwards by making a vacuum as they vaporise it.

Systems of events connected by a pattern are realised

In every cell and tree and poet but seldom with such beauty

As you show now. An end of summer fullness suits you:

The suave dark greenness over the simple white

Of your trunk gives me, in these bright September days,

A cause for gratitude and evokes my praise.

 

Note: “Stottir” is a Scots word for a person of great attractiveness, usually a young woman.

 

 

 

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