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Over 40 years
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Lorna Thorpe, from Sweet Torture of Breathing

Fallen Tree

For decades I lay here turning bone-like,
so dry I'd have spat and cackled like a witch
on a fire. Then the bark and wood-boring beetles
drilled through my flaking skin, moss and lichens
sprouted, mites burrowed a labyrinth of corridors
where birds, bats and spiders set up home.
Now I'm more magnificent and grounded
than I ever was in my heyday — just look
at these ruffles of bracket fungus, these garlands
of ivy and beads of sulphur tuft. Oh I know
what those cocky saplings are thinking, vaunting
their bendy spines, their lime green leaves.
They see me as a crusty dowager sidelined at a ball,
crammed into the moss velvet she's worn
to every party since Nijinsky choreographed
the Rite of Spring. But I don't miss all that jostling
for sunlight and crowing about rookeries, not one bit.
They'll tell you I'm past it but it's all happening in here,
my seedless loins a den, guest house and larder
and maybe, in a century or so, a nursery. See,
the older I get, the more life I have in me.