Saturday, September 04, 2021

always asking

Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)

What meaningless summer

Headlights on metal railings



It's a contradiction, the trunk you embrace

Here I have lived, here I'll die

What do you feel now, in the trunk you're shaking?



Writing this poem, means
letting the others flit, 
the six I thought of just now while taking a shower,
the thousands before them. 

The more honest ones; they would have said openly
what this one skirts round, fills the gap with indifferent topics. 


I was always good at exams, but in our life I've failed from the start. 

Your face in your hands, three days ago. Reaching for a smoke. 

I was always asking you for marks. In the mean time, I marked myself. 
I marked you too. 

So I failed, though it wasn't even an exam. I managed to fail. 


You go down, just under the soil surface,

dig up the brass helmet wet with mould

and peel away the wrappings. I'm looking over your shoulder

at the bright brawn, the head-cheese

It must be the savings you stole from your mum

It must be the guineas sweated by your dad

You catch my eye, and I catch yours.

We'd like to throw them back but we can't.


The falling leaves 


that it's OK to leave

and hence the name


Yes I knew about the dirty secrets of the food industry

Fishing mining and pension funds

I wasn't naïve about aviation

Politicians are hardly perfect

And the innocence of the office, the myopia that bore us in its arms

The distraction of events, the daily fisticuffs that amused and infuriated and concealed

But still I supposed

I was never strong on logic

And then the belief gently disengaged itself

Like a lover saying goodbye when words can't say it any more

A young Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)

Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana), when it's a big tree like the one at the head of this post, is a rather magical one. 

This extraordinary species is native to a rather restricted area of Oregon and N. California, where it grows very tall and forms dense woods. 

Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana). Frome, 4 November 2021.

It has proved capable of being bred in hundreds of cultivars of different shapes, colours and sizes, mostly shrub-like and much smaller than the standard native form. The commonplace "evergreens" sold in garden centres are almost all varieties of Lawson Cypress.

Personally I find a lot of them fairly uninteresting plants, mere utilitarian shapes and screens, but this doesn't  stop the birds appreciating them. 

Some varieties are much more striking, for instance "Little Spire", with fascinating foliage, a narrow columnar form, splendid bark and a dramatic abundance of red flowers in April. This variety needs a sunny location; it would be great as the focal point of a rockery. 

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana "Little Spire". Battle, 7 September 2021.


Chamaecyparis lawsoniana "Little Spire". Battle, 7 September 2021.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana "Little Spire". Battle, 7 September 2021.

Part of the appeal of Lawson Cypress as a basis for garden evergreens is that it's so hardy, unfussy and trouble-free.

However, wild populations are now threatened by the introduced oomycete Phytophthora lateralis, which can kill the trees. It's increasingly being detected in other countries too.

(An oomycete is a kind of microorganism. They were formerly classed as fungi but differ from true fungi in various respects.)

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At 10:56 am, Blogger Vincent said...

Loved the poem, Michael. Usually I skim through them—if that— especially if they are written by another poet. But this one: cathartic, deeply personal, resonant to the reader

At 8:13 am, Blogger Michael Peverett said...

Thanks Vincent!


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