Forty Years Onhttps://i1.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/B67EB035-6324-492C-9B99-91FF68CC0732-e1537266674951.jpeg?fit=2448%2C1487&ssl=124481487Jonathan HumbleJonathan Humblehttps://barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/jonathanhumble-e1538975565564.jpg
Walking in snow towards this young ash
triggers memories that surge and well,
overflowing as uncontrolled gasps of breath.
This scar deepens with every visit; a vicious erosion,
an abhorrent river coursing down the trunk,
heartwood exposed to light perceived as shameful.
Eyes burn, assaulted by a metre of slashed hate
inflicted on poorly defended and tender bark;
some stranger’s loathing of beauty.
Victim and witness to the effects of inadequacy,
I am drawn to repent for assaults by others,
tarred by kith for resurrected screaming deeds.
These clouds know it. These birds are aware.
This tree understands no amount of contrition
could erase the mark of Cain upon its body,
still striving to push blackened buds out
into a world five years after such violence;
still walking with scars forty years on.
Jonathan Humble is a deputy head teacher in Cumbria. He’s worked as a painter, lettuce picker and engineer in the power industry. His poetry has appeared in a number of publications online and in print including Ink Sweat and Tears, Obsessed With Pipework, Riggwelter Press, Blue Nib and Eye Flash Poetry Journal. His short stories and poems for children have appeared in Poetry Roundabout, The Caterpillar Magazine and Stew.