Up

NIGEL JARRETT

There's a break in the tree-line
 

was all my father said,
except for some stuff about
his leaking pond, car troubles
and the usual trash on TV.
(The set beams suggestion by proxy -
Dr Mesmer's pendulous timepiece
advanced by electronic means -
but my stony old man
knows just the perfecting of
his shit-detector apparatus.)

It's there when I drive over
to occupy my mother's space
in that home without its maker,
where brittle crumbs drift in crevices,
wet spoons crust the sugar
and the penalty of things not done
advances towards the widower's redoubt
like a platoon on its stomach -
or the trees themselves, cresting
the ridge of Mynydd Maen
before we were born, but petrified now
by the endless patience of foresters.

It had long gained its height.
the bleached roots lusting deep
for the mountain's quicksilver streams;
the years had refined it,
winds combed out its excess,
honed all to sharp intolerance
as Monty collected his freedom,
Uncle Joe wiped legions off the map,
and chimps meteored among the stars -
each to be stifled by a call
across whose wavering words
fell the shadow of thugs
come for their confession.
I saw it - the stump (a gap
left by the tripping dentist),
the semaphore of the swung axe.