in her body       I walk to Rydale lake               gather foxgloves
come home for tea & write the names of trees
             sycamores & firs & a grove of hazels
I mend her brother’s clothes              help build the fire
             I practice diligence in the face of her life

look in the mirror & the vision fills with white noise
             the shape in the glass blurred & elusive
like trying to count my fingers in a dream

in this year         I pause halfway up Mt Vic to catch my breath
             who was the last woman in my family that could name
each of these trees by sight?              trees unknown to Dorothy or me
             dirt under our fingernails       trying to rebuild our bodies
from the land & the land with our bodies

I take the pot with the plant that died during transplant
             empty it in the corner of the lot            & hope nobody looks out
to see me abandoning it there under its own dirt

it takes more than one human lifetime for a forest to grow

my glass bowl breaks & Dorothy bends down
             picks up the shards as thick as my fingers                wraps them
in sheets of paper & flourishes the bouquet
afterwards         our fingers bloom red with tiny incisions

walking with Dorothy


a dog bothers the scraps
of food around the compost bin

                          it howls at the murmur of the village stream

ignoring the voice calling from the hill
the trees gleam with overnight rain

                          each tree, taken singly, was beautiful

the bees emerging
from their wooden house
mistake me for
a flower and for
a moment I am one
hopelessly lacking in pollen
swaying in the breeze
and taking up space
standing still in the mud
unmaking myself amid
leaves I’ve seen a thousand times
and never wondered the names of

                          some trees putting out red shoots
                          query: what trees are they?

a fantail flits from branch to branch
something bigger than language
in its movements
which loses
its sheen when captured
later the sky between
apartments and street lamps
empties but for the full moon
and Venus striving to be seen
as brightly

                          all the heavens seemed in one perpetual motion

grit on the footpath like glitter

                          the roads very dirty

a morepork somewhere in the dark
oblivious to me and better for it

Note: Lines in italics are taken from Dorothy Wordsworth’s Alfoxden Journal.


Ash Davida Jane is a poet and bookseller from Wellington. Her work can be found in Starling, Sweet Mammalian, Mimicry, Food Court, -Ology, Sport, Peach Mag, and Mayhem. Her first book Every Dark Waning was published in 2016.