You feel the whole thing in the bid for it
The days of seed-cast must have been quite still
There’s so much here not much can have gone down the wind
A tree coming into her own through years of room
Putting up, putting out, like a river
Ascending out of the waters under the earth
Feeling into finer and finer tributaries
Fingering the air
Already in April working up her progeny
And below, under the skirts, in the dappled shape of her
All the life above is being emulated
Testa, radicle, plumule
Till all the zone below is softly jostling
And the one is manifold
Each frail more-light-desiring cotyledon gapes
And through, across, comes a likeness in strengthening bronze
The idea of a tree is building
All the ground is prickling
Dense as a swarm, shoal, murmuration
As though every one in the gush of seed had taken
Every winged seed-head went home
And knows it wants to breathe
You see none of this on the urban concrete
And precious little in the parks and gardens
And this itself is only a visitant
Like a snowfall
It will disembody
It was an interlude, we were passing, we happened to witness it
Fierce maledicted Lilith howling down the four winds
I have a forest in every seed of me…

David Constantine, born 1944 in Salford, Lancs, was for thirty years a university teacher of German language and literature. He has published a dozen volumes of poetry (most recently – 2014 –  Elder); two novels, Davies (1985), The Life-Writer (2015); and five collections of short stories. He is an editor and translator of Hölderlin, Goethe, Kleist and Brecht. For his stories he won the BBC National and the Frank O’ Connor International Awards (2010, 2013). The film 45 Years was based on his story "In Another Country." With Helen Constantine he edited Modern Poetry in Translation, 2003-12.