It is like a Buddhist temple in Thailand, this pine cone, the largest of the half dozen or so (it is more like nine) that I have collected. Its outer fringes flick up to the air like the eaves and tiles of those temples. But this pine cone is dark, light on the underside of each of its plates, which are designed like chairs in a theatre, set around from each other so the person behind can see more clearly the play, whereas inside, where the seed was, which looks almost as if it is open to catch rain, to wash the seed down into the earth, it is dark, a deep brown of the tree. The true skin of this thing is on its inside.
It stands against the smaller, fatter pine cones I have collected from other trees, other places. This long one came form Wiston and the pines there, whatever breed they might be, whatever species. Do they talk to each other? It has been found that trees do—they even give moisture to each other underground, when necessary, warn of predators and fungi, they open and close according to the weather, like flowers, the teeth of this cone. It is almost like a forest in itself, this glass plate I have filled with these small remembrances of the forest, of the days that I have spent outside, walking, running, and in Wiston, talking, writing poetry. The walk around the square three times with a fellow poet, our lives brushed up against each other for a small moment. There have been times in the last few weeks where I have thought about Wiston, the poetry weekend I went on. There have been plenty of times I have thought about less pleasant things, such as feeling outside the community here in Newcastle, such as my chance or choice for decisions of where to go next, what to do, of friends leaving, of leaving friends.
The pine cone knows nothing, or at least very little, of this. But it has been dragged away from its own family, its own place, and put together with a bunch of cones that are similar but still different, not exactly of its own type, and it sits here, in the dry, warm, elegant comfort, as I have called it in another poem, penned this morning, about my cat’s breath on the window pane (see below), and it wonders where the wild life it once led has gone. It has been displaced this cone into a foreign world, not one where it is at any risk, except of stagnation, of ossification, of a lonely loyalty to others in the same condition and situation. The pine cone stands up because I have positioned it to stand. The others around it bumble up, standing or rolling over, or lying down, one of them a similar kind, from Wiston too, maybe even from the same tree, but this one is lighter, thinner, it looks like a cousin rather than a brother, kin but not nuclear, and a worse reminder for being so. Continue reading