Tuesday, 6 March 2012
Michael Haslam wrote a poetry collection A Cure for Woodness. I'm not ready to believe there is a viable cure. Especially not in winter. Woodness and winter are as intwined as darkness and winter. Winter winds throw up dead wood most tides.
One low water, a morning last month a trunk appeared about quarter of a mile out on the saltmarsh. I hopped a way over to it to remember that classic rule: small = far away. It was huge. A big dead tree trunk, perhaps two and half metres long. Its branches had been ripped from the trunk, its bark too, so it was smoothly unidentifiable to me. Still, too heavy to roll over itself. Too big to carry back, and the saltmarsh is too boggy, too pocked with ditches, to wheel a barrow over it.
The subsequent days I watched it wash closer to solid land, fretting someone else would see it and claim it. Every car held a potential woodsnatcher. Every morning I’d check it was still there, lying in opposing angles to its previous position in the tufted grass. It didn't get any lighter. The saltmarsh no flatter for a barrow.
Ten days since my first sighting, I had help to fetch it back. It was gone. Wail. Stolen from beneath me. At least a week's worth of heat, maybe a fortnight. I'd seen it first. Been watching it like some creature out of Aesop. I had a territorial right to it. It was mine. I scoured the marsh for people hauling trees, for cars high-tailing out of sight. Then I saw it, all two and a half metres long, its massive girth. Tucked under the seawall, metres from the door. My cure for woodness? More wood.