In fact, the trees are murmuring under your feet,
a buried empathy; you tread it.
High over your head,
the canopy sieves light; a conversation
you lip-read. The forest
keeps different time;
slow hours as long as your life,
so you feel human.
So you feel more human; persuaded what you are
by wordless breath of wood, reason in resin.
You might name them-
oak, ash, holly, beech, elm-
but the giants are silence alive, superior,
and now you are all instinct;
swinging the small lamp of your heart
as you venture their world:
the green, shadowy, garlic air
your ancestors breathed.
Ah, you thought love human
till you lost yourself in the forest,
but it is more strange.
These grave and patient saints
who pray and pray
and suffer your little embrace.
Copyright © Carol Ann Duffy, 2019