Sun lights the end of the year
the wind has dropped to nothing
Benazir Bhutto has been shot.
We dug experimental holes around the house,
broke a spade and hoe on buried rock
planted songlines, a lemon tree and shrubs.
Sixty Kenyans incinerated in a church
I climbed into the eucalyptus, swinging
through the world like a bug on a blade of grass.
The sea all around on three sides glows,
I grasped the springy boughs in my useless arms
I smelt good and hung on against sense.
This tree has such a colour,
is it blonde cinnamon, and the etymology?
– she might sweep me up if I fall.
At your age I thought I had a plan,
I did not, or it was the wrong plan;
it was not to be fifty and exhausted up a tree.
Speaking the only three words I have
to the local children bemused,
arms numb – Eucalyptus, if I fall, save me.
Excerpted from Madeleine’s Letter to Bunting (Longbarrow Press 2009; subsequently republished in Hotel Shadow, Shearsman Books, 2010).