White Willow

for my mother

Your great tree brought down by a storm,
the one that took out infrastructure,
left stretches from our North Country
bereft of electricity,
how it fills the whole back garden!
Its remnant, shrivelled leafage
quivers in today’s slight breeze.
Once upright, tangled branches claw
across your patio.

But no, you don’t remember much now
dozing at a picture window
where first light brought anxieties
and, thank the Lord, your tree fell cleanly,
laid itself out on the lawn
to spare those neighbour fences.
Surgeons booked up till the New Year,
your tree’s not going anywhere,
that blown-down salix alba.

Emerging from the murkier twilight
of more short December days,
frequented now by seagulls, squirrels,
with its dead boughs reaching, reaching,
reaching out towards the window,
still, it keeps you company.

Biography: Peter Robinson is Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Reading. A new collection of his poetry, Retrieved Attachments, will be published in February 2023.