“The Year of the Tree” by Katherine Gallagher

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I carried a tree

through the Underground. 

It was hard. At first,

people scarcely noticed me

and the oak I was lugging​

along the platforms –

heavier than a suitcase

and difficult to balance.

We threaded through corridors, 

changing lines: up and down stairs,

escalators, and for a moment

I imagined everyone on the planet

taking turns 

to carry a tree as daily rite.

A few people asked

Why a tree?

I said it was for my own

edification – 

a tree always

has something to teach.

Sharp gusts

whirred through the corridors

rustling the branches

as I hurried on

past the sweepers

picking up rubbish, scraps of paper.

Be sure to take the tree

with you, they said.

Don’t worry, I’m taking it

to my garden,

the start of a forest.

When people stared,

Relax, I said, 

it‘s a tree, not a gun.

​©Katherine Gallagher

The Year of the Tree was chosen by Carol Rumens for the ‘Poem of the Week’ Guardian blog in November, 2012

Published in Carnival Edge: New & Selected Poems (Arc Publications, 2010)

oak sapling on white background

One thought on ““The Year of the Tree” by Katherine Gallagher

  1. Lovely Katherine – I can really picture the journey through the hustle and bustle then to a beautiful, peaceful garden that is turning into a forest. Cheers! Louise

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