Cedar (Toona ciliata)
They gave themselves away, flaming in rain-
Forests, rising stark through open canopies,
A goauche of green and grey. They wrangled
Them, these mahoganies, used furniture in
Waiting, architraves and finials and chairs;
They spotted them and downed them, these
Unwitting Colonial fittings hiding out
In geologic time; they rounded them up
From mountainsides, the future perfect
Immanent in their past continuous selves;
They drove them from gullies and flooded them
Downstream; they slipped them from these
Former worlds to new cities on the plains.
Too good to leave standing in a land
Of recalcitrant trees; too much like profit
And good timber to let be.
The forests that
Lost them lose them still; their grieving never
Ends; they miss the cedars’ lyric trick of dying
Again, more beautifully, each new season
Than the last; they ring, the widowed forests,
As if waiting for their pasts.
This one, spared the saw and islanded here,
Survivor of a genocide of limbs, I feel lonely
For the forests the tree never knew, for parts
Of me, and all of us, felled before we grew.