there were two ſpyndels whiche were as whyte as ony ſnowe / and other that were as reed as blood / and other aboue grene as ony emeraude / of theſe thre colours were the ſpyndels and of naturel coloure within and withoute ony payntynge – Malory


Green as any emerald, greener 
than the Green Knight’s emerald greaves, 
the spindle Eve smuggled from Eden 
on which grew the infamously green 
apple, an apple not error in itself 
but contained in a field of error wherein 
we taste a full half of the sweet upon its loss 
when our body floods with the juice 
our sick tongues savoured not, an apple 
harder by far than ever we 
conceive. This branch, greener 
than a sun-struck beryl, planted by a virgin, grew 
to a great tree white as any snow, whiter 
than snowglare, whiter than the Florentine light 
of Beatrice resuming her silken seat 
in the ultra-white rose. The white too was error, 
not error in itself but contained in a winter 
of error, when its white boughs gravid with snow 
made wood and crystalline water ice one, 
indistinguishable as waters undivided, 
wherein one wanders past the whiteness 
of his woman’s skin and worth lost 
as among many hills of snow 
in windy snow swishing away forests 
and sees from a spreading cloud, helpless 
to help it, his wandering body 
to-shivering his heart. When Cain killed Abel 
who died in the snow the tree went red. 
Red, yes, as blood, redder 
than rubies, nay, redder than garnets which are 
as a lover’s cold lips to the deep red halls of hell 
alive with traffic of Geryon’s cows bred 
with the enterprise of a Jacob, such red 
these boughs, the deep red red 
of which is not error in itself, but contained 
in a wound of error which closes before 
the wound is healed like a book or life. 



Lee Posna lives in Wellington. Books he’s recently enjoyed include King Jesus by Robert Graves, A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History by Manuel de Landa, and My Wars and Laid Away in Books: the Life of Emily Dickinson by Alfred Habegger. New Zealanders he’s recently admired include John Dennison, Jack Ross and Therese Lloyd.