Green Warriors

Long-domesticated northern trees
imprisoned in a garden square
in Bloomsbury, gated and locked,
yearn to escape.
Over the years, their trunks flow
slow grey honey
ooze bulging through cast-iron railings
grow over stone footings
out to the Roman road
and freedom.
In our Botanic Gardens,
an optimist
built a post and wire barrier
around three monster trees.
The Montezuma Cypress here
has form; I’ve been snapped
insect-tiny before its giant relative
in Mexico,
the wide-girthed Tule tree.
Already this Sydney cypress
sprawls improbably broad.
What true Australian doesn’t love and fear
the strangler fig from Moreton Bay,
buttressed like a fortified cathedral
ready to invade the sky
and eat the sun,
or wind strong sinuous roots
to trap your puny mammal feet?
The Lord Howe Island fig
whispers with the Moreton Bay
across their reaching canopies.
See how it throws wide-stretching legs
across the wire fence
high above the concrete path
and down into a strangely vacant
patch of yellowed grass.
New banyan trunks climb
columnar triumphant.
Nature abhors a vacuum,
and these warriors rise
green giants
in her defence.
If they decide to walk,
no fence made by human hands
could hold them back.


Jenny Blackford’s poems have appeared in Strange Horizons, Westerly and The Pedestal Magazine. Award-winning Sydney press Pitt Street Poetry published an illustrated pamphlet of her cat poems, The Duties of a Cat, in 2013, and her first full-length book of poetry, The Loyalty of Chickens, in 2017.

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