Where the land ends The tree begins by Justina Barley Here Take my hand I’ll lead you through The weeping land The battle sky cracks Rain imps pluck my coat And flick the waterproof With sly contempt The great sower broadcasts His liquid bounty Profligately shattering the land With strained glass Crystal quartz Caught on branches Polishes the ends of needle fingers Wearing her suit of hair The fleece tree Cloaks herself Below the lichen cloth Hieroglyphs tattoo her skinbark How can I translate them? Read me, she begs, weeping As I study the wands and cups Of the tarot moss. What are you trying to tell me? Restless From fluid stalactites She strews wind-rain As it pushes her laden hair Then all the trees reach out to pock their drops wide onto the silvered mirror Each the epicentre of its own small quake The boiling margins As the rain, not rain, Bubbles down Disturb the sleeping giant Whose hair billows as he breathes. He hides among the rippled reeds. Beyond, the lake is silent. We enter the canape of trees Look up to them Eager to taste this appetiser of the higher landscape Foray into the carnivorous forest All of them eating Cush cush cush Calling its prey No damselflies in amber yet Here where this tree has bled Help, I’ve fallen There is no help Except you become a floating world A silvern sill Pack your trunk, coin tree I could have brought my little pick To mine your metal life More will fall Struck with the orange doom There is a poem in the trees A pome on the rowan A story in the leaves I need the spark I will rub the sticks Of my brain together Branch signals through my neuron forest Mimic the wooden caul to give structure to my story The tracery that holds the world together The soil-skin down I will make a tale Like that spilling from the world-root With a bark of scales But man is the great snake The asp with the axe Bitterly, the unpalatable truth is that tannin will not protect you from a chainsaw Who has counted The cost of the trees Where numbers measure its interest Trees weep for the melted land but there are never enough tears to quench the smoke or soften the brash of Slash and burn The trees are still weeping We will weep forever Later, we look down The land wears its coat of trees The rock its land-cape As the sky lifts We un-brella Will you stand? Will you give me hope? Will you stand as a rainbow for me? When the trees end The land ends But you will rise.