Anatomy of a Lignotuber
Stacked on the back of a truck,
delivered to suburban houses,
a lignotuber may be known as carbon,
energy stored, until tossed into the fire,
through shivering frosts, an all night burner,
meristems dense and hard blown
on the ashes of the morning,
a curlicue of smoke arising.
Beneath the ground in living state;
woody swellings hold life in suspension,
a contorted arrangement of tissue,
swollen buds, a pulse of protection
against erasure, defoliation,
the flat horizon we call ‘clearing’.
Yet even a phoenix can be extinguished
with ball and chain, bulldozer, disc plough, root rake.
Scraped into a pyre, lignotubers smoulder for days,
un-doing three billion years of evolution.
Eventually the hands of the returned soldier settlers
who wrestle mallee roots from the earth,
come to resemble the lignotuber;
scarred and blistered, ingrained
with ancient sand, scorched by seasons,
cracked open with ruined potential.