After ‘The Huntress of Skipton Castle Woods’ by Anna & the Willow
Pliant yet unyielding—there’s steel at my core—
I’m fixed in the flex of blown breeze, leaf ripple.
Hems besom discarded leaves, gathering them in as kin,
and I’m recognised by twittering tree-top tits. Behind me
in the shade of years lie groves of weeping sallows, withies
weaving the same patterns over and over, binding us
through time. When menaced, we women have always
become tree. But my fragile frame belies our strength. Now,
not-quite goddess, I assume this stance between the living
and the dead, torso twisted to counter the weight of ages,
legs braced against what’s to come. There’ll be no burnings
here, but I take aim at those who would sacrifice my woods
again and again. Call me aggressive if you will. But tell me this:
who else will go into bat for the trees, the trees, the trees?
Alice Stainer teaches English Literature and Creative Writing on a visiting student programme in Oxford. You can read her work in Atrium, Feral Poetry, Iamb and The Storms, amongst other places. She has recently received several prize nominations and submitted her debut pamphlet. She tweets poetically @AliceStainer.