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Surfaces the Deeper the Oak.

An Extract.


Passing the newly enlarged HS2 Compound near Stoneleigh in Warwickshire I was struck by two fragments of felled oak on the verge of a new stripped bare-earth terrain and went back to have a further look. I became haunted by how the fragments seemed both rejected and alert even to being on the watch, a sort of bifocal tree-remnant no longer complying with any particular prevailing surface. The fragment on the left is an overturned shorn root-collar, while the nearer one is a cross-section of trunk with amputated branch-nodes, perhaps the next section along or possibly from a different tree altogether. This nearer fragment had the air of a grounded searchlight. Both were attempting to rear up above the surface despite being completely stranded on it and no doubt displaced from where the original tree itself grew.

Arcing brokenly forward towards/between the multiple surfaces (depths) of wronged relations, strayed corrections, stationary revisions. — PL

Severed oak portions      butt heads or rump
joints steeped in (stripped to) their distributing new surfaces      only such
sheared faces could combine a razing-through of ruin by ruin

brackets of root-oak, two basements off stack strapped
to own cuts      mutilated edges ground to a relief shower,
what comes to be thrown (known) over a surface

five faces of severance and a detached root-cradle,
new bare faces against the shallows, the latest
deep rending sweeping more than their own lie-out

squat joints kneeling on a platform of destitution,
cradling a fresh banter of root-reliant ratchet,
deadly snatches will be a surface’s prime mutation

surfaces scraped against their own skin,
any fold of it grazes radical intrusions

new edging on a scoured shelf, surfaces dashed against surface
(whether upright or prone)      a heavy openness
without departures

here the oak-scraps (steps to what they gave) proclaim
their residue      a scabby, uncupboarded reminder,
tree agenda desiccated, dedicated

sand and spoil foam on a black parapet of tree,
against welterless grain comb the
before and after of an oak

the oak doesn’t wish itself shed but remains ahead
of the levelled graze      how many sprung levels from
five faces (multiple seasons?) off severed joints?

an oak in its abandonment stickless and spikeless

where at once hands and feet of a tree’s alighting
ransack the contours      oak unclenched assures new surface strides,
tree riddance offers further knuckled trajectories

oak surfaces don’t move but do exert tilt      all what a
right/left rocks across dirt-floor imposition      which will have been
shoved beyond its native engineered tremor

off many severed planes these unpropped fragments
offer a naïve regard, bad frontage      become a dawning of
surface beyond surface from a depth of helpless exposure

here nothing surface-suspended remains fluid      a dusting (flush with itself)
is offered the pain of newly unplaced crags,
parts of an oak spying out

no such teemings among discarded uprights      severed joints
won’t be further abbreviated, awkward
bandings imperil the plains

elementary credentials not posing this clearance as landscape,
oak chokings its non-sedimentary counter-host:
nest-racks weren’t purged for new instruments, merely
a tree’s vertical layers can be so exposed, parodied

such rips demand an unknown quota of absorption,
quartered tree-plates won’t otherwise be revoked

cuts, new stances of rejection, become the surface targets of
re-section      fresh brackets of forest detection, static insurrection

although rigidity was the estimate (oak lined) it was
as a steeper twisting of land whose surfaces
did more than wheel to unwind

these bones were the cabled stoop from summit      once
so smattered on a level there will be no more
unattended signal surfaces

green stallings (stalkings) in quest of surface rind      what
amends ruin is residual grinding, the nested
gestures of shock

once this featured (futured) derision of oak splays out
instructions (off its own division rind) there will be
no further pause

imploring what has already craved tree-stain      oak pegs
parallels on a vernacular surface      no other gain

a marker-face at interior departings      particular
separations are paid for at the rate of
surface bleaching, retrenching

new contingency of post-arrivals (smote the oak)      now a
tauter necessity of pre-surface, columnar soil,
remote embedding

available parts at the thin of it      tree chunks will never be
slender again but render squandered soil readily
a pleading between goaded surface

brute organics not lodged but smudged upon soil      already an
outline of unforeseen reversions

remnants forsaken at a fuller domain’s skewed spread      the fallout
(surface) compromises any riot (rest) of singulars,
risks its own horizontal indemnities

oak fragments strangely swathed in stratum garb, convert the
order of abandonment

PETER LARKIN contributed to The Ground Aslant: an Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry (2011). Among his more recent poetry collections are City Trappings (Housing Heath or Wood) (2016) and Introgression Latewood (2017). A symposium on his work was held at Warwick University (UK) in 2018, the proceedings to appear in the Journal of British & Irish Innovative Poetry. A new collection, Trees Before Abstinent Ground was published in late 2019, and Sounds Between Trees was published in 2022 by Guillemot Press.

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