Like an old Finnish woman with
branches on her head
I’m lying on my back in the middle of a pandemic
in the shade of seven trees, the ground massaging
aches I never had as a child – onnenlapsi,
lucky child – with no sense of future pain.
As I dare to ease out of London lockdown
I feel my spine soften, muscles lengthen,
let my eyes float through patterns of leaves
to the sky over Walthamstow Marshes.
I open my ears, let go of minor tinnitus
and the trees say my name, let me lapse
into lucky times when leaf seasons gave me
dabs of infant greens, reds of adolescence,
yellows of eloquence, peaceful ochres.
In winter, shades of brown fall in wrinkles,
stripping the branches bare. Oh for the days
of sapling spines, fingertip flutes,
when my mother sang to me in Finnish.
But today the wind sings of other skies.
In sleepy Hämeenlinna,
where Sibelius heard his first birds,
I learned the tune and words
of Taivas on sininen ja valkoinen:
‘Sky is blue and white.’ That’s all I need
today. But do I hear a sedge warbler?