Iambic Images 32 - Canoe Tree
Canoe Tree - Currency Creek
About 8km from Goolwa, South Australia, near the turn-off to Milang.
Aborigines constructed canoes by taking a huge piece of wood from the trunk of a tree, using axes made from sharpened stone. They made sure they did not ringbark the tree, so it didn't die. There are still many examples of "Canoe Trees" along riverbanks in Australia.
At the base of the tree vandals some years ago ringbarked the tree and it is now dead.
Death of a Tree
An historic 300-year-old tree from which an Aboriginal canoe
was once carved at Currency Creek near Goolwa south of Adelaide,
has been given little chance of survival after being ring barked.
‘ . . . and here the old tree stood
for how many thousand years? that old gnome-tree
some axe-new boy cut down.’
The car’s flight shakes the old road into light;
films the air with dust. A sole
grasshopper climbs a blade of grass:
will not shift. Always presage of a plague.
Morning turns on the counterpoint
of destruction and repair: but nothing
will soften the hour to come for this.
The latent axe that spun a rough cut
circle into soft green bark: where
life has slipped in the transpiration
of three hundred unbroken seasons.
Now sap has stopped and leaves-
blue blush of tender growth will find
their long relationship with the once kind sun
a new and first adversary.
Death stalks the hot and blunted hour
sharp with the oil-wet volatility
of fresh cut wood. For every tree
there is this final reckoning: what is
lost and gone falls out of balance
with the grasp and force and push of life.
The hands and blade are gone - stowed
in the secret compartment of a moment
that is almost impossible to rehearse
and apprehend nor understand. All that is left
behind - this cipher of ugly fingerprints
that evidence and convict the eerie second
that stretches into grey meaningless
and profound silence. These scars
of loathing and of carnage history has heard
before. The numb ends of horror here
the mute and spinning day can’t stop.
©Jeff Guess 2017