Right now I’m Standing

Right now I’m standing

beneath what used to be
I imagine   an impressive tree
      Split down its bole it
has sprouted green leaves   that will be rustling
      way into September
  At its base lying athwart the clearing
      is the severed part

The colour of brown has weathered to near-grey
  and the footfall of walkers has covered
the wood with a layer of dust & yet
  the part that has fallen among the spikenard
and hungry shrubs surges out of death

The raspberries feed on its breath
  and beetles thrive in the slurry middle
where the bole rots

Listen   there is nothing as exhilarating
as the feeling of life coming into you

Though people
  look suspiciously
stand and listen   do not go anywhere

we have been the workers
just the workers

In the Congo   one man had a land
almost eighty times
the size of Belgium   as his estate

We have been property

When I talk about reclaiming time
I’m just thinking about my body
standing in the middle of this woodland
doing nothing   nothing

Jason Allen-Paisant. “Right now I’m Standing” from Thinking with Trees. Copyright © 2021 by Carcanet Press. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, carcanet.co.uk.