To inosculate

This is how two trees come together as a verb:

The action of wind and weather rubs the

Trunking stems, wears down their hides of bark

Until, shedding the singular, they fix and engraft.

I saw two sycamores – their branches held aloft,

You’d almost think them paused in greeting –

With their bodies joined, creakingly growing.

They knew the trick to living long and well is sharing.

Different species of tree – ash and beech,

Oak and wych – have been known to husband like this:

Fused through lipless kiss. Forgetting separateness.

In this wound, where bark gives way to bark,

There is strength through scarring – a deep tissue spark

Uniting, healing, as if by magic, the other.

Each stripping, cleaving, peeling their barriers back.

Life is in the cracks. You scratch my back and

I’ll scratch yours. They’re stronger than either

Tree was growing singly. Combinedly, as ’twere

A lover’s knot, they forge a burl deadlocked.

When did rubbing become fixed embrace?

Was it a slow relenting over a hard winter once

When one tree, kissingly, cleft to its neighbour?

A mutual surrender to throw their lots in together.

Here they stand, intransigent, statued forever:

Old, wizened couple, leaning one on the other.

They are verbing together: always grafting, busily

working, co-mingling sap in the onrush of Spring –

Harvesting, growing into one another’s rings with age:

Unmoving, yet always sucking face.

This is how to make a craft of symbiosis.

In comparison with trees, a human kiss, so transitory –

A momentary rubbing of lips – is a post-it note

To the story written in a fixed, wooden kiss.

This verbing teaches me to strip my skin

And, rubbed raw of fear, let the light back in.

Inosculated sycamores beside the Muker hay meadows, Swaledale, Yorkshire

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