Lament of the leaning trees
F.F. Teague, ‘The leaning trees‘
We were planted to stand, not to sprawl in this way
by the larger of lakes in the park,
to stare straight at the sky through the night and the day,
not to ogle our own shades of bark.
But the lake has swelled swampily over the years,
seizing soil in her cool clammy clench,
with a treasure of twigs-and-grass, sweet chestnut spheres,
and a hoard of hard wood, once a bench.
How we cling to the earth with our tendrilous toes
while the lake laps in sinister sheen,
rousing daily and nightly our powerless throes
as we lean, and we lean, and we lean.
- - -
Published on The HyperTexts, July 2021
- - -
I composed this in January 2021, while recovering from a broken leg and a few complications. A photo of the leaning trees appeared on the Facebook page Pittville Swans & Friends. I hadn’t been out for a while and it was lovely to see the Leaning Trees again. Suddenly I started thinking about being able to leave my flat one day, which made me feel a bit more cheerful about things. When I got out, I took the above photo.
The trees have been leaning ever since I can remember. I lived in an area of Cheltenham called Fairview, not far from Pittville, for about nine months in 2001 and they were certainly leaning at that point. Every time I visit the park, I half-expect to see at least one tree lying in the water. But they must have very strong roots, because they just keep leaning. The council has removed a few branches over the years yet the shape of the trees remains distinctive.