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BooksJune 12, 2020

The Friday Poem: I am a tree by Jackson Nieuwland

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New work by Wellington poet Jackson Nieuwland.

I am a tree. I spend most of my time standing in the forest with my family. They love nothing more than to stand absolutely still like a plank of wood, only waving their arms every now and then to make sure there’s enough wind for the birds to keep flying. The problem is, I hate standing for prolonged periods of time. My legs get all hot and itchy and I can’t help but fidget. So every few hundred years, I pull my feet out of the ground and go for a walk. I put my sneakers on and lumber slowly down the street to the dairy, stopping every month or so to bend down and smell the flowers. I buy an ice cream cone and a can of coke and sit at the bus stop to eat. As I walk back, I look around the neighbourhood. I’m always surprised by how much has changed since my last stroll. A new apartment block, the green man in the traffic light replaced by an infinite purple spiral. I used to think that whenever I stepped on a manhole cover or ducked under the overpass, that I would be transported to another dimension. Every time I was disappointed that it didn’t happen, but I still believed just as fully that I would be teleported to a different reality the next time. And then one day I was, and I realised that I had been wrong all those other times. I had travelled to different dimensions, I just hadn’t noticed the differences, or I had noticed them but they were so small that I just explained them away as things changing over time. I have been a tree in every dimension so far, but I know that one day I will drop into a universe where I’m something else. A fireman or a unicorn or a bottomless pit


‘I am a tree’ appears in Jackson Nieuwland’s poetry collection I Am a Human Being, published June 2020 by Compound Press.

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