It is most taxing at the start
at her splayed footing
Tennyson’s serpent roots, where
on tip toe, the boy reaches upward
straining for the lowest branch
then heaves, his shoe slipping
in a treacherous toehold
abrasions from silvered bark.
With altitude lightness comes
limbs grow supple, vigour
suffuses, boldness surges
and his head grows giddy.
She’s a compendium of mischief
priapic totems scored, hearts
impaled on libidinous bodkins
initials, profane effronteries
decades marked and numbered
territorial claims, contested
with slap-down and slander
lesions healed by creeping tissue.
Higher he clambers; a cleft here
a knot there, while all around
Ceridwen’s larder, still sealed
ripens, foretelling autumn’s harvest.
Where the trunk begins to taper
that’s his hermit cell, a confinement
of translucent green, gauzy light
modulating loudness and calm.
He pauses, ponders on Ogma’s tract
words on a tablet, verso and recto
raising the grain, transmuting wisdom
from latent to substantial.
until, at the crown, his swaying lookout
the hissing breeze caresses his skin
like fingertips, bringing notifications
from all the beech trees in England.
Then the call, a reluctant descent
through ages, to the lowest branch
limber fulcrum, a mother’s hand
gentling him back to earth.