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Touch the Sky: Tree Poems

An excerpt from Worth More Standing:Poets and Activists Pay Homage to Trees, edited by Christine Lowther

Book Cover Worth More Standing

In Worth More Standing: Poets and Activists Pay Homage to Trees, celebrated poets and activists pay homage to the ghosts of lost forests and issue a rallying cry to protect remaining ancient giants and restore uncolonized spaces.

Themes of connection, ecology, grief, and protection are explored through poems about trees and forests written by an impressive number of influential poets, several of whom have attended the recent Fairy Creek blockades and still others who defended BC's old growth trees in Clayoquot Sound nearly 30 years ago.


Want To Touch The Sky?
—Rae Crossman

the tip
of a young spruce
go about your life for twenty
or thirty years
come back
lie down
on the needle bed
look up
and see
your finger print
on a cloud


Evergreen Lines
—Rob Taylor

a crow bends the tip of a four-storey pine

wind high in the pines—this morning’s rain still falling

standing and standing... deep-winter pines... my tongue gone dry

pines bent under snow—springs awaiting spring

finally sunlight wild from the swollen creek warms the inner pines

drifting spring clouds—one thousand greens in the pines, then a thousand more

almost back inside the dream—full moon pine shadows


“At the last judgement we shall all be trees” —Margaret Atwood

—Pat Lowther

Trees are
in their roots and branches, their intricacies,
what we are

ambassadors between the land and high air
setting a breathing shape against the sky

as you and I do

the spring also breaks blossoms like bread
into our hands
as the tree works

light into bread

its thousands of tongues tasting the weather
as we taste the electric weather of each other

Trees moving against the air diagram what is
most alive in us

like breath misting and clearing on a mirror
we mutually breathe


okimaw wahic – the Sacred Tree
—Louise Bernice Halfe — Sky Dancer

I sat in a willow tarp lodge
alone in the forest.
Inhaled the sweet birth of leaves. Looked at the deep black scars that bled from the branches.
I wondered what agony the trees felt to release
those black tears. I touched gently, brought their taste to my mouth.
In a night-dream
I walked into a sparce sunlit room four trees graced each corner.
In their arms a nest curled, cradled against the winds.
Grey haired, wrinkled and saggy skin I’ve been shown my birthplace
after I landed from the seven stars.
I was curled within the roots
of trees.
My arms are now thin twigs that yearn
to hold my children,
my grandchildren.
This breath
a leaf living through spring, maturing through the summer falling in the autumn
brittle in the winter. Nurturing the earth.


The Trees Have No Tongues
—Fiona Tinwei Lam

Yet they sough and sigh as they sway,
receiving sunlight, open-palmed,
or creak and moan in winter blasts.
Dawn to dusk, biophonic chorales
held within and between upheld limbs—
trills, pecks, caws, thrums, hoots.

Within each trunk, clicks, pops and crackles
as tiny embolisms of air break
tension, tensile rivers coursing
in ultrasonic song up
through xylem
to bough, branch, twig,

while below the forest floor,
lacing roots entwine
in a wood-wide web of questing
dendrites enmeshed in fungi
to commune with kin,
nurse saplings, nourish the ailing,
or plot and warn as they record

each marauding. The forest
suspends its breath with every felled
giant. Roar of uprooted centuries,
wrenching of earthlimb from earthflesh.
Who will hear?
As the world smoulders,
let each poem be
a fallen tree’s tongue.


Excerpted from Worth More Standing: Poets and Activists Pay Homage to Trees, edited by Christine Lowther © Published in 2022 by Caitlin Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

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