Richard Myers

Richard Myers

The Walnut Tree

I planted you beside the fence next to the field 
that stretched green to the River Glass before
the storm that claimed the barn roof to the cows’
mild surprise; before the gale that felled the fir
which killed a ewe, crushed two fences, and an apple tree.

Too tight the tether to support, initial growth
was stunted and your bark was scarred
with raised concentric rings; from which I saved
you just in time. And now, this mild day, I lie
beneath your lower boughs in wonder.

My weight and warmth on leaf fall reaches roots
and fungi; I stroke your smooth green bole
and lower boughs, the breeze sighs in your heart-shaped
leaves, which flutter-filter blue sky and sunlight.
I rub a leaf between my fingers, draw deep the scent.

Upslope, hazels spear and dangle catkins,
the big sweet chestnut casts green urchins
in a scratchy mat and tries to starve your light.
Below, oaks, gean, sycamore and beech tumble
into a tangled spinney of conifers and brambles.

Hedges run off down the strath, hawthorn,
wild rose, crab apple, blackthorn, and link with
patches of oak and hornbeam, aspen and alder
where badgers tear the ground, small mammals dodge
and birds with calls I strain to hear flit branch to branch.

But you, my lonely walnut, reluctant and far
north of your native home: late frosts, early frosts,
long summer hours of cool light before the short
cold days of winter that whip your naked branches,
fight on. I love you best.

Richard Myers
Richard Myers

Richard Myers has worked as a solicitor in England, in business development in Scotland, and as a small-scale farmer in the Highlands of Scotland, with short spells as a ghillie and as a mine labourer. He lives in retirement in Edinburgh with his long-suffering wife, Judith.