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.