Michael Burton

Wood to Flesh 
The metamorphosis of wood to flesh 
Is neither rare nor a make-believe 
Pinocchioesque affair. 

It is believed there are a dozen trees a century,
give or take, who wake in this unruly human state 
their feet freed, their trunks inflated curiously with air.
No longer resolute, they feel the acute pains of cold, 
heat, the sudden wrap of hardened leave,
bent back and lashed across their faces. 

This - the first of many smacks of irony and embarrassment 
and a loneliness only ever felt by the nestless birds
rested on their former branches. 

But what, you may ask, of their newfound liberties?
Or their ability to motor their limbs
to move against the once unalterable churning of the wind? 

Undoubtedly, they’d tell you, they did not ask for these
nor for the hunger, thirst and exhaustion that they cause
or the confusion of the need to know where one ought to be. 

The worst of it all is the constant streaming of their thoughts,
the daunting promises of days, the itching doubts of nights, the stop-
start dreamful sleeps, the torments we have never lived without. 

/yer roots/:  
From your mixed-bag manners
to your faded dialect,
them’ll be yer roots -
those things you can’t quite detect, 
those creases, 
you just can’t quite perfect yer roots. 

/yer roots/: those momentary lapses
as your well-crafted act collapses
to the ground
and when your guard slips down that little bit 
and that mask of yours don’t quite fit, 
that’s where they’re bound - yer roots. 

/Yer roots/: those stubborn stains you can’t get out, 
those relentless, endless, niggling doubts
that you’re nothing more than that
fucking hole you crawled out. 
Cos it’s by your roots you’ll be defined, it’s by that rotted 
spot of earth you thought you left behind.
It’s by them you’ll be tied,
pinned down from each and every side. 
Yes you can run but you’re a fool to hide from yer roots. 

/Yer roots/: too strong now, too thick throughout. 
There to trip you in everything you do.
The depth of their entanglement now to vast
for even your wildest dreams to reach past 
cos every twig and leaf that grows 
come and go with the wind
But yer roots no -
they’re built to last. 

Michael Burton is from East Lancashire in the UK and his poems have been published most recently in The Interpreter’s House, The Honest Ulsterman & Pennine Platform. He also writes and performs as NotAnotherPoet and is the vocalist in the band New Age of Decay. Their debut album can be found on all major streaming platforms.