On Killing A Tree

It takes much time to kill a tree,

Not a simple jab of the knife

Will do it. It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out of it, feeding
Upon its crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air, water,
And out of its leperous hide
Sprouting leaves.

So hack and chop
But this alone wont do it.
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.

No,
The root is to be pulled out -
Out of the anchoring earth;
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out - snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strength of the tree exposed,
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.

Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then it is done.


(From POEMS, published by Nissim Ezekiel, Bombay 1966)

by Gieve Patel

Comments (2)

your poems my friend are beautiful! keep writing-I would love to read more and thank you as well for your kind words about 'That little country Church'-I am just now seeing your message written so long ago-thanks for reading my heartfelt poems too...blessings-Becky
Every couple ready to wed should read this. Another spiritual write from the heart. Patricia Gale