roots of a gro(o)ve

They are often found amongst others unlike themselves, of darker greens and sloped branches that can withstand the weight of snow when it falls

They coalesce even in conditions inhospitable

Even when all has withered their skin can breathe the light, with pores
porous and made for exchange

So they grow still, even after the canopy is bare

They are much like others of their kind but special are their petioles (their little petit feet) which let them waver like a shiver in the transparent fluidity of air.

supple and so prone to this warp and weft in the sky
limber and resilient
with a certain timbre to their sway

They grow together in droves, in self-made colonies that feed, and feed from, the ground where roots spread out

symbiotic nourishment
entangled with each other
suckling through rhizomatic roots

that grow as and into the horizontal

budding adventitiously and so ancient and long-lived

Standing like a series of capital I’s, their seeming singularity belies the intertwinement that scaffolds them from below

Burrowing across and making layers of an abundant understory, even the fire will not wipe them out, for they are protected as and by their thicket underground

New sprouts will appear and the burned and barren landscape will foster saplings that will swallow again and stretch

They set down anchors, interlocking anchors, whether or not on solid ground

All resistance and refusal and regeneration from below

The leaves were once placed in graves to protect the dead on the routes they might take

Emblems of protection, it was said Persephone tended them in a grove, biding time from eating seeds before the fruits to harvest could be brought forth again

With their shivering leaves, they were thought to communicate with other worlds, listening to and speaking of what they heard from afar

the whirr of those leaves in the wind thought a whisper bringing news from ancestors and giving rise to the lyric of language and poetry

To place the leaf under your tongue, it was thought, would impart eloquence

perhaps to undulate rather than enunciate in order to articulate otherwise

A letter in the alphabet of Ogham, those ancient marks made on stones that stand still

another rhythm, a nuanced cadence that warrants listening will altered ears

On another continent they are named for their trembling, their quaking

of the earth it might split open
but of a body it might be dancing

not shivering but whispering
not a tremble but a twirl

not shaking but shielding
an open shelter along the way

brimming and buttressed
whether or not seen

They once were but are no longer of the grave

now of the grove
simultaneously above below
kept on the move but forging still from, and for, the roots

circle round and add the o
and in or out of step
we’ll find a groove
and on we go

Part of the Art Writing 2019-20 contribution to 12-Hour Non-State Parade International Symposium, Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee, Saturday 30 November 2019, 11am – 11pm.