The common English oaks
         cast a towering shadow
over the platform
         at Barnehurst station
the pedunculate oaks
         with their sessile lobed
spirally-arranged leaves
         twisted into rhyme

Time has again gone up in smoke
         as autumn has drained
their lush green leaves
         to the colour of tobacco
Clad in thick fuses of ivy
         from head to toe
these trees are doomed
         as their lifeblood
is slowly sucked away
         No glorious spreading crown
for these emaciated specimens
         no monstrous girth—
their acorns litter the ground
         cracked and crushed
under relentless waves
         of commuter feet

Time feeds on time
         a parasite that will
one day bring these trees
          crashing down to the earth
and so these rugged branches
         will rot back into the soil
from which they once emerged
         ash to ash
dust to dust
         But the minerals
will rise again
         the resurrection
of the molecule
         is not an article of faith :
oak leaves are indeed
         hands reaching out
to future hands

John Lyons


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