Poetry | Peuplier Trees

It starts with the breath at rest.
Air drawn in smoothly
like a bucket from a well:

first snapped upright,
then the steady pull
of rope through hand.

With this drawing in
the back straightens.
The spine pulls, curved
but taut
shoulders framed,
blades close like wings to open chest:

The peuplier trees in lines
elbows lightly bent to grace each other.
Swaying on the balls of feet
as wind moves past them
not through
to keep a farm in quiet shelter.
These trees wait, poised in pre-plié.

Breath drawn in and held
like two warm hands clasped below.
Guiding each other while trees
and people move aside
for the two hands, held tight.

On the other side
hands slip
and the trees bow, plié.

‘Thank you’ exhaled on breath.
Too soon, straight backed,
drawn up, air in.

The peuplier trees
in their wallflower stance
if only lips had brushed cheeks,
the line of trees
would have been freed
to dance.

Words by Isabel Rawlins

Photograph by Ethel Nshakira

This piece was originally published in Edition 10 of Ja. magazine.