Visiting the Sick Tree at St. Pancras Old Church Cemetery
A page plucked from the visiting fellow’s imaginary diary
By Mohammad Zahid
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.
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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