‘I came to visit you today, old friend. I’m sorry it’s been so long. How are you? Let’s talk of the old days, do you remember?’
When first we met I was five years old but you had seen a century and more. That was fifty years past, and I was small enough then to shelter from the winter chill inside your hollow trunk, while I waited for the fish to bite. Over long golden summers your sap green leaves shaded me when the sun was hot, and in return I offered, sometimes, the sacrifice of a brightly painted float, flung up high into branches that then spread far and wide.
You were famous in your day, a named landmark by which to navigate. Stately, majestic, like the Thames that flows through your roots, the jackdaws did your swearing but the willow warblers sang your songs.
Etched now is your skin, and fizzes under my palm the story of a long and eventful life, a life that I feared might already have passed. So I’m glad to see you, old friend, stooped and reduced though you are, but here still and to my eyes beautiful even now because you help me to remember.
Writing & Image Darjeeling March 2022