Creative Writing Ink Monthly Competition (September Winner)

Dutch Elm

Peter Branson

This Autumn’s tardy, tree and hedge still decked
in party clothes, yet here’s an elm, its time
rung up, the corpus overlooked, as stark
as lightning tempered by a winter sky,
the others round removed by snarling blade,
teeth pulled with tractor power and chain, ploughed out.
Like antlers, top most rigging and the mast
bone white, some velvet bark clings on below.
The rutted trunk is compromised, dry rot
like honeycomb in ancient beam and board;
above, well spent, woodpecker holes like eyes
in skulls. Where mosses, lichen, fungi dine,
vast worlds of tiny creatures breed and thrive:
for ever, in the face of death, new life.