In search of yew in Borrowdale
that shared the sun with Judas,
I walk a rutted path,
aware of twinges, snares, rocks,
carrying your paints and easel
along with this bowl of words,
no longer fit for consumption,
mold festering in knots
from sour touching fruit within.
And if these words were berries,
gardeners would stand disappointed
at the canker in the bark below.
And if a perching blackbird,
sang this song from any tree,
on any perfect spring morning,
it would jar, taint the air
and cause the world to frown
at such discordant notes.
We’ll find a place to stop, you and I,
and you will paint this landscape,
my eye drawn towards a blemish
where a loose neglected sleeve
was dragged across wet canvas trees
in one careless movement;
a moment you might come to know;
as discarding the bowl by this footpath,
I swallow the words and wait
till the bitter aftertaste subsides,
resolves in time to soil and dust
with Borrowdale’s ancient yew.
Picture credit: By Alfred Heaton Cooper – From the book The English Lakes, Painted by A. Heaton Cooper, Described by Wm T. Palmer, 1908 (2nd edition). Scan from University of Toronto – Robarts Library / Internet Archive