By Mohammad Zahid

Visiting the Sick Tree at St. Pancras Old Church Cemetery

A page plucked from the visiting fellow’s imaginary diary

By Mohammad Zahid

This image may be subject to copyright

Blight, they said, was what it was suffering from,

having endured almost a century of loneliness.

Living amidst the grave stones is a brave thing;

but then it gnaws at one’s heart.

Trees have their own ways of perception so it knew

here was a pilgrim to Dorset, who comes here for a conversation

about its companion, and read to it his words too.


This time somehow I remembered ‘Throwing a Tree’

albeit this tree ain’t no proud, for it stood upright

in its grace – aged, composed, quiet.

There were no men with saws or ropes,

yet it seemed the tree had almost turned into ash

in its laboured breathing,

for the winter wind was equally cruel.

This image may be subject to copyright

I leave, without speaking a word,

Somehow I felt that it was time to say goodbye,

a last one at that; the cold winter wind,

the ashen ash tree, and an eerie configuration of the wet gravestones

all sounded like an omen in chorus.


Two days later, I get to hear,

the tree, torn, gone.


The Hardy Tree at St. Pancras Old Church Cemetery fell to blight and old age on 27 December, 2022 a couple of days after a friend, a visiting Belcher Fellow at Oxford visited this place.

Photographs © Dr Oindrila Ghosh

Words © Mohammad Zahid December 2022

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