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.