I said, “I want to eat your luggage.”
You put down your coffee-cup, which still held
a rope of bubbles styled as your lips;
you licked their template, ripe as a mango,
looked at me, and said, “How?”
My explanation consisted of demonstrating wedges,
cakelike, great wads of mock-crocodile shived by my old,
token kris (the one I brought back as contraband from Java)
and served on slipware, sluiced down with India Pale Ale,
the catches, clasps, locks, and handles arranged on side-dishes
to be savoured later.
You picked up your cup again, sipped, re-sculpting
the bubble track with your mouth,
and dropped eye-contact to ask, “Why?”
I went on as though I hadn’t heard, exposing how the contents,
discovered, and eaten too over weeks, reveal your secrets,
things about you unknown even to yourself. Look there
– the merino wool sock, lost two trips back, now
an afternoon snack for me.
You kept at your coffee, gazing at a spot on the wall,
saying nothing, but pushing your overnight bag towards me
with a single, elegant, shoed foot, a slave bangle
looped at the ankle; the bag was such an object
of appetite and longing, its monogram a tangled LV,
its chine thirty-year-old poplar, it’s pick-proof locks
ripe to be tried by a tine of my fork.
At such times what a monster I become, lost to anything
but my consumption, and so I picked it up,
vowed to take it home to board it, section it, maw it
piece-by-piece; I invited you to come and see.
You put down your coffee-cup, say, “Okay”,
slung your trenchcoat round your shoulders,
and took my arm to leave.
Eating trees is the easiest, most natural thing to do.
I know a man who lived happily by simply coppicing
a beech wood; he survived long, and was as lean as a pole
until old aged felled him; his last word was “Timber!”.
Some people – gluttons, I should say – unbolt their necks,
unhinge their jaws, and move through holt and weald
chewing what gets in their way, leaving raw stumps,
rotting boles, supine trunks, a devastation;
they claim not to be a plague, however, that windblown seeds
will repopulate, that festering remains will be new
and fecund habitats for voles, caterpillars, and fungi;
their view is debated amongst xylophages, and it is noted
that saplings bend to avoid their progress! But even they
do not disobey the words of the prophet, carved on tables
of ebony, that say:
Thou shalt eat no growing thing that is
of lesser height than a woman,
neither shalt thou eat
the bowman’s graveyard yew,
nor the cricketer’s willow,
not his cork oak, from which
bat and ball are made…
For those of you who still think it odd, let me point out
that you already consume trees; from the greatest to the smallest
– Black Forest gateau, chocolate log, root beer,
bourbon and branch, bread sticks, twiglets.
But to de-digress and re-address, the gourmets amongst us have
their favourite dishes, our haute cuisine whose hauteur is the tree-top;
mine – I’m a gal of unsophisticated taste – is the baked slice of sycamore,
garnished with a side-salad of copper beech and birch leaves,
dressed in pine sap.
An acquired taste, but – stop and think – oh, the sense it makes
to eat a tree today, to take the woody way of sustenance. Toothpicks
of may-thorn jags are available for afterwards.