Sycamore Hope


The felling hurt. I’d only known the tree
through Robin Hood in 1991,
the Odeon in Cheltenham. Screen 3?
The cinema is long (a decade) gone.
It too was taken down, not by an axe
but bulldozers, and during daylight hours.
It wasn’t safe, had wear-and-tear, and cracks –
a rival, too, remarked the local powers,
in Cineworld. The sycamore was well,
however, thriving in its special space.
What odd affliction, vandal-lust, must dwell
within the soul who hacked it near its base?
It might return, though, springing from the stump
or sprouting from its seeds, in hopeful clump.


The remnants of the tree are under guard –
a greenhouse deep in Devon. Just a few
tree-keepers are allowed across the yard,
through shining doors. Imagine, every hue
of tree resides in labelled trays or pots,
above its nourished soil, an inch below,
or level with the earth. I think of cots
for all the little infant trees on show.
Nine gently grafted sycamores are here;
they’ve seedlings too, 40- to 50-fold.
The growth is slow; the keepers persevere.
The parent, after all, was centuries old.
Yet hope keeps sprouting, in each tiny heir,
and in the souls of all who tend and care.

Felicity Teague

If you have any thoughts about this poem,  Felicity Teague  would be pleased to hear them