A Prospect of Beech Trees by Stephen Boyce



Stephen Boyce is a prize-winning poet and co-founder of Winchester Poetry Festival. He is the author of three poetry collections, The Blue Tree (Indigo Dreams 2019), The Sisyphus Dog (Worple 2014), and Desire Lines (Arrowhead 2010). He has also published three pamphlet collections. Stephen lives in north Dorset. www.stephenboycepoetry.com































Sometimes a tree becomes a stoup, a font

at the threshold of winter, its gnarled joints

offering the blessing of damp beechmast,

leaf and twig and husk.

                                                And lingering there

the sweet musk of decades of mulch trampled

by the feet of drovers, huggers, lovers

and some who found respite in shade,

took shelter from a squall.




Sometimes a tree stretches its limbs skywards

with the taut musculature of a dancer

celebrating light, the architecture

of exuberance.

                                    Even leafless it’s in motion

leaning into the wind, drawing shapes

in the air, elegant tableaux lit by fits

of pale sun, the sap slowing in its veins.                                                 




Sometimes a tree, swollen by pollarding,

embraces the metal barbs that mark its bounds,

quietly enfolds the possibility of pain

within the tightness of its bark.


by axe, lightning-struck, taxed with too much weight,

the tree endures, defies from season to season

what we think we know of stamina, of strength,

of tolerance.




Sometimes in rough weather a tree issues

a silent prayer from its fissures and splits,

where the scar of a lost branch makes a lip

out of absence.

                                    And absence evokes its own

meditation on beauty, each healed welt,

each blemish a mark of something lost, 

a badge of something turned to gain.




And sometimes a choir of trees teaches us

how to hope, what it is to dream, their roots

in concert extending into the next field

ageless beneath the mould and turf.

                                                                     Each pulse,

every quiver of hidden fibre connects

with the next copse or spinney, listens,

receives, sends back life’s vibrant chord.



Stephen Boyce




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