Monday 19 November 2012


 A Suite for Endangered Trees in McLellan Forest East, Glen Valley, Langley, BC

by Susan McCaslin

Dear Black Cottonwood
“I stood still and was a tree amid the wood.…”
Ezra Pound

Your saffron leaves unselve us
hollowed trunk a doorway
summoned from forest floor

Melded branches winding
whispered texts entangled
torqued to speechless autumn skies

flaming torsos rising
mottled leaves dropping
honed to shape of tears

What would take you out,
hang for sale signs by the roadway
all in the name of development

de-creating where children
breath in the moist greening
courtship cries of wild barred owls?

Dear Lovers’ Tree

I fell in love with a forest
and became an activist

but first there was you
one, no, two, two cedars twinned

around the heartwood of a tree husk
a realm—two torsos attuned

stretched limb to limb
two root systems’ wet entangling

two of you ascending
splitting, reuniting

like Plato’s round being
against the gods of progress

There are those who would chainsaw
your wide open hearts

and, yes, you pant toward union
under the sky canopy

bride-ing the soar of day
palm to palm like holy Palmers kiss

blessed jointure each to each
pressed each into the other’s ahhhh

So, silenced at your mossed knees
I surrender all

to the forest which makes and remakes
your lust and breath

your aching stately pavane

*The pavane, pavan, paven, pavin, pavian, pavine, or pavyn (It. pavana, padovana; Ger. Paduana) is a slow processional dance common in Europe during the 16th century (Renaissance). 

Dear Christ Cedar

You among emerald drapery
from your wind-
stormed outpost

plank and plane
vertical-horizontal world pivot
sprung from coastal seed

humming core
flaking bark
woodpecker’s grail

growing a wilder carpentry
taller masonry
more commodious poem

Be in us the world’s resinous heart
hung in a spackled sky—
forest green

hoist and balance
equipoise and reach
sylvan singer song

Dear McLellan Forest

(for the students of the Langley School of Fine Arts who came on Nov. 15, 2012 to
experience McLellan Forest)

For the graced and gravitied trees
lolling by the Fraser, this green hymn

Hildegard’s viriditas,
greening power, stemming from the woods

Green man, green woman, green child
mossed and tossed from green

for the unabashed tree huggers
who know it takes a village to save a forest

for Hopkins’ Binsey Poplars
hacked and hewn

for the tall earth-honouring dream
and the dropping, dripping boughs

for the squadron of teens
streaming steadily from yellow buses

into the sacred space to stand
among maidenhair ferns

with serenades for the mushroom stairway
climbing Cottonwood’s hollowed heart

for the auric fairy rings still visible
to un-inventoried eyes

for the Councillors who would barter heritage
for a recreation centre elsewhere

a deeper council, wisdom works,
a pealed appeal rising

Land appellants come
singing for hemlock and cedar—

those who long to be re-created
by mother world, held in green veils

chanting green

*viriditas: a term the German mystic Hildegard of Bingen used for the greening force in


  1. inhaling deep breaths of beautiful, as i read this, and exhaling calming breaths of hope ... your writing is powerful, susan, thank you.

  2. This type of area is very important to the animals, too. This area of large tree growth akes an excellent fawning ground for deer, and is also important for a wide variety of birds.