Ann Pilling

Novelist and Poet

Weeping Ash

I write in March 2020. Being over 70 and with a health problem relating to my immune system, I am in ‘lockdown’ like millions of others, all over the world. The weekend papers are full of reading lists, books suggested to pass the time. I am interested that so many of them are about survival in a time of pestilence ( for example, La Peste by Albert Camus). My inclination is to carry on celebrating life. Here is a very recent poem about the loss of a much loved tree, which celebrates its life ( and death).

Weeping Ash

It died quietly in the night. If there were death throes
the gale swallowed them; and it fell with care
sideways on to a holly tree which soon bounced back,
we can see the hills now and we have more light.

I will miss all of it, its witchy branches, its long hair,
its stubborn refusal to leaf until spring
had all but passed into summer. Only then
did its long black fingernails unfurl to green.

The logs, stacked up in chequered rows against a wall,
will last several winters. Ash burns well.
In the dark months we can pull up close,
warm our hands at its flame

as those we have loved warm
us when we remember them.

Ann Pilling 2020

This poem will appear a new collection from me, in October this year. The publishers are Shoestring Press.