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Nicole Fordham-Hodges - disability arts online
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On Trees and Language / 6 March 2012

The Yew Walk, Huntington Castle, Conegal, Co.Carlow

The Yew Walk. Humphrey Bolton, geograph.org.uk

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It was a place of wild orchids and underground rivers: a dry valley on the North Downs. It was the perfect spot to be talking to a friend about quietness. He said there was more than one type: a quietness which is an absence of life, and a quietness which buzzes with life.

His words stayed with me. I have since thought that there are two types of speaking: one which comes from wanting power (essentially from fear) and one which comes from connection or love.

No communication is perfect. Even a gesture – however seductive or beautiful – can be cowardly. It might be a way of keeping yourself in shadow whilst pushing a gesture out before you: a false identity, a tiny doll. A man might take to wearing a bowler hat or carrying Wittgenstein wherever he goes. A young woman grows her fringe long and peeps out from underneath. A poem can be like this too: its imagery a hiding place.

A tree is something that speaks for itself. It is its own world and its own slow language. My favourite tree – a yew tree on a flinty slope - has a fairy-tale hollow to hold my real and metaphorical treasures. I return to it as if returning to my identity. The most treacherous language, the most twisted knot of fear, cannot compete with the presence of this tree.

The Yew Tree
Solid and square
intense and slow
the yew tree owns
its own hollow.

Its integrity
makes me false.
My flimsiness
is obvious. 

Nothing stops this yew
from holding dark space:
its branches touch soil
in which it is rooted. 

Pay no attention
to the small red berries:
this tree is a being
in whom gender is tiny. 

I was happy yesterday:
I found myself a hollow
Today I am weak:
I can barely touch upon it. 

© Nicole Fordham

Keywords: creative writing,identity,poetry,tree,words