To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature.
I am not a “dweller in a wood”, but I am a walker in the bush, and to me too every tree has its voice and its feature. Casuarinas speak in the wind, almost like the murmur of human voices. The trunks of eucalypts creak against each other. Wattles choose to converse in heady perfume; bottlebrush in the multitudinous voices of parrots and honeyeaters.
Trunks split to reveal creams, russets, browns and blue, especially under the influence of rain
bulge out in intricate carbuncles
break into diagonal fissures, orange and grey
create patterns of sublime subtlety over their musculature
present designs like subdued Matisse cut outs
Their roots break pavements and gather sun-mottles.
Their bark peels in rich strips
and they blush as they excoriate.
Brown, they lean over green foliage and water
Tall and silvery-skinned, they reach for the sky in the morning light.
They tell their history, not only in their precisely accurate rings of bark which record the quality of seasons as well as the passing of years, but also in fire scars
and the only-recently-deciphered tracks of moth larvae.
Moth larvae postscript: I mentioned these tracks in a previous post, unscientifically hidden in a haiku. My indefatigable friend, Prue, sent me links to some remarkable research by Dr Max Day, recently turned 100, and a number of other retired scientists. Dr Day's most recent paper was published when he was 97. The articles are well worth reading.
The quote at the beginning of this post is from Thomas Hardy's “Under the greenwood tree”