I want to grow old




We are lucky enough to live near Park Wood in Ruislip, one of the largest ancient woods in England, predominantly hornbeam and oak. As an NHS doctor, mother of teenagers and daughter of elderly parents, walks during the pandemic have been a respite. We have seen deer leaping through the snow, carpets of bluebells and wood anemones and now, once more, the leaves beginning to turn a rich yellow. Sometimes, pausing in the woods, you feel the presence of the trees around you: their quiet strength, their watchfulness and contentment in simply being.

in the way of an oak,
trunk thickened in rings
blind roots pushing deep.

Come summer, birds
gather on my tangled
branches. I flame golden

in autumn, small
furred creatures sleep
curled at my foot.

Stark winters silver my
creviced bark, rimed
with frost. Spiders

furl webs over its scars.
Spring surges, my thousand
green eyes turn to sky.

I am swayed by storms
as lovers. I bend and
break, stay upright

until the time to release
earth from my grasp
nears. Now they will

sing, how I rooted here
took leaf. Years passed
perhaps a hundred.

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