Rhona McAdam


In the body of the tree, other lives
grow dank and vibrant.

This is the road, this is the table,
this is the world
that feeds a smaller world
and worlds within.

The tree unlearns its age,
rings dwindling as it falls back
into germinating earth.

See how its roots make a river
of appetite, its branches
a temporary bed. Water runs through them
and air. The whole a breathing mass
inhaling the sun’s work, exhaling the moon.

No moments of stillness in transformation.
The process of becoming
summons a cast of trillions.
Bacillus subtilis. Pseudomonas fluorescens.
Teeth and mandibles, slime and excreta.

Over and under the rats the nematodes
the micro-armadillos. Flow of life on death.
Mycorrhizal fungi fingering their way,
the micro micro organisms
not yet counted or named.

Down, down in the belly
of the earth, there is life
hungry for its dinner,
living out its destiny in the vast
unequal world of dark and damp decay.

*Hügelkultur is a horticultural technique
where a mound constructed from decaying
wood debris and other compostable
biomass plant materials is later planted as
a raised
bed. –Wikipedia

Rhona McAdam has lived in the UK and Italy and now makes her home on Canada’s West coast, in Victoria, BC. She writes on food and farming and is a longtime volunteer at a local community organic farm. She has studied
Permaculture, taught Eco-Nutrition, and published an urban agriculture manifesto (Digging the City). Her poetry has been widely published over the past four decades, and her seventh collection, Larder, will be published in 2022.