Still Life

Before the bark beetle
And the fungus
Wiped us out in millions
You took elms quite for granted.
We shaded English fields,
Hosted rookeries and crows’ nests,
Supplied our supple timber
For boat hulls, cartwheels and coffins,
Gave knots and contours of our wood
To many a polished table-top.
But look in the hedgerows:
Beneath our rotting stumps
Our roots and suckers are still alive,
Raising short-lived saplings like flags of hope.
The fungus may
yet poison itself,
And we
will grow
to be