I spent time as a teenager working in woodlands, where I developed a love for trees and our natural world.

Perhaps counter-intuitive, chopping down trees can be good for biodiversity and the woodland ecosystem, in properly managed coppice, for example.

The cycle of growing wood, clearing and regenerating over centuries generated a system of life adapted or suited to these rhythms.

This poem comes from that place; quiet and lonely, comfortable and soulful.


Grey light.  Cold trunks.  Leaf litter in the damp

morning.  Chainsaw gloves smell of oil, petrol,

wood shavings and exhaust.  Gloves stiff with cold,

infused with toil and woodland management.

A deer crosses, silent stealth, picking soft

through the green-tinged, spring-poised coppice.  March is

in touching distance, harvest will cease while

flowers grow.  No one sees the deer, none care.

Kevlar boots, thick and languid, grip feet – firm,

sturdy, toe caps; tools themselves: an investment –

compress feet in slight, comfortable pain.

Legs flex, fingers twitch, breaths hang in clear air.

Silence is transitory: a car revs

past.  No traffic here, only folk who mean

to pass or visit on purpose come by;

few stop, less mean to arrive and take breath.

Trance broken, two-stroke slosh-glugs fuel tank

full, starter cord-rip cough-chokes engine to

life, gut-revving blue smoke; clearing to a

putting, chink-kick exhaust.  Teeth blaze-cut wood.

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