The LUGO Press

If trees could talk Illustrated by Laura Steel Pascual

If trees could talk

This piece was written for the Green Office’s Spring Poetry competition, on the theme: Environmental Guilt, which took place between the months of April-May 2022.

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"I can talk to trees,” I would insist at age 5.

My mother would wear a warm smile

and ask me if the trees replied.


“Not in so many words,” I'd say

As her gentle gaze fell away,

averted to the more essential tasks of the day.


And so, left alone, just me and my thoughts,

I pondered yet again,

If trees could talk,

What would they say?

And if trees could talk,

Which orifices would move, and which would stay

immobile

paralysed

in its objectified state.


"Trees can breathe,” I was told at age 6

by my teacher on a school trip

to a local nursery.

"And they help us breathe too”,

she continued,

but I stood there

immobile

much like the trees around me,

confounded by the absurdity

of being alive,

and feeling,

and absorbing,

but at once

deprived of expression,

of embodied proclamations.


"If I was a tree,” I told myself at age 7,

"I would most certainly go to heaven.”

My friends laughed, and so I claimed,

“Trees can do no wrong,

they don't enact any pain.”

A moment of silence

fell upon our little faces

and amidst that silence, it was agreed,

that trees were sacred.


Beyond age 7,

I grew

and grew

and grew

and somewhere in between

a blur that seems unshakable to me,

the burden of existing grew

and grew

and grew.

Somewhere in between

I stopped talking to trees,

embroiled in mythologies

construed by my proclivity

to fully retreat

all the way inside of me.


And somewhere in between,

if only I had remembered

to gaze upon a tree,

I would know

not in so many words,

but I would know,

that I can still talk to trees.

Not in so many words,

rather,

through a sense of precarity

that language cannot endure.


At age 23, my limbs are aching,

and my words are idle,

my gestures empty.

I’m back the nursery,

paralysed by the absurdity

of being alive, yet still so

catatonic.

A moment of silence,

for we are now profane,

the sacredness has withered,

I can hear the trees cry out in pain,

not in so many words,

or gestures,

rather,

by virtue of my own disdain,

and yours

and ours.


And in my dreams,

at an age unknown,

the trees talk back,

in words,

and sounds,

and gestures,

and utterances of a wrath unknown.


I am awake,

amidst the stillness,

I’m aware,

of my incapacity.

I hear the sound of my breath,

and look into the distance.

The trees are swaying, fearless

manifesting their own quiet proclamations,

not in so many words,

but in a valiant embodied profanity.

growing deeper,

and deeper,

and deeper,

until words themselves would collapse

at their sublimity.