Waking Alder

The quiet ache of these hours –
the children at school
a flood of blue notes
from the alder-flute
calling you to the river.

See how their branches carry
the cones of last year’s fruit –
a new tremble of catkins,
the purplish length of the male,
the female’s delicate scales.

When cut, the alder bleeds as we bleed.
Reach out and trace
this spiralling of buds,
let the alder shore up your banks
breathe life into
the waterlogged dreams at your roots.

The inverted hearts of their leaves
can shelter both raven and moth.

Victoria Gatehouse lives in West Yorkshire and originally trained as a biochemist before
studying poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her work has been published in
many magazines and anthologies as well as being broadcast on BBC radio. Competition wins
include Otley, PENfro and Poetry News. Victoria’s second pamphlet The Mechanics of Love,
published by smith|doorstop, was a Laureate’s Choice for 2019.