While walking to the Little Asby Hawthorn last week our thoughts revolved not only around this remarkable tree, but also around the land in which it sits. And whenever we walk through open fields and moorland the absence of trees is all the more striking because we’re spending so much time considering trees. The Little Asby Hawthorn is something of a beacon for other hawthorns and, indeed, for other trees. This poem reflects its own survival and the wider challenge faced by many other trees worldwide.
I used cloth to place the opening lines of the poem onto the trunk, ephemeral as the clouds that sometimes settle on this high piece of ground. The tree itself was not collaborating in the art but the weather was – specifically the wind – and so was I. As I tied the cloth to the tree and then tried to photograph it I curved my spine and cursed, and I rooted myself firmly against a wind strong enough to knock me down, and my fingers bent and ached with the cold. The cloth was whipped and tossed against the bark, and would have raced skyward if it hadn’t been tied down.
and only this one tree
and only where roots find earth
and only resilience
and only with good fortune
and only limited time