Her love of her mother. Her mother’s gift of language. We were looking at dead or almost dead trees today, trying to decide where we could plant trees for my mother and what kind. Mr Carslake offered two yews, but I don’t really fancy yews. They were always in church yards. There’s a very practical reason for that .... to keep the cows away for their own protection. And it was a very useful wood. Not that they are really poisonous. I remember Hanley, was that his name in Ruskington? Hanwell Yes, he ate a few berries just to show that they weren’t. Because there were yews at the bottom of the school garden..... Or walnut trees, he said we could have walnuts. I’ve got nothing against walnuts, I suppose they’re native. But I was thinking more of oaks, or maybe ash. Don’t you think, oaks? He examined the branches of a great tree in a clearing that looked almost dead, snapping off some twigs. They could clear this away.
these two must be separated
not in the same house
wind or the furies
he said that the two oaks will grow
and if they die
they will be replaced
and I imagine my mother
my eyes her eyes
these gaps of sunlight
between the shifting oak leaves
and that is true of any oak tree
"Seeing Oaks" comes from Somerset Letters, originally published as a book by Oasis Books in 2002, with selections, including this one, later included in Paravane: New and Selected Poems 1996-2003 (Salt, 2004). Presley's last two books were published by Shearsman; to learn more about her and her work and read selections, please see her Shearsman author page here.