The Redbud Says, by Meghan Elizabeth Kelley

Susan Palmer
Sydney Gardens Bath
3 min readNov 11, 2021


Sydney Gardens Tree Weekender writing competition — this piece was selected by our volunteer judges as worthy to be included on a long list. Competition entrants were asked to write a poem or prose piece of 250 words or fewer on the theme of trees in parks and public gardens, as well as identify the local park or garden, the trees in which inspired them.

Audio descriptor of images:

The cicadas hiss from my limbs.

One motor vrooms then another.

Light dapples

and dazzles until it doesn’t.

Leaves braid see-saw sway.

Morning unzips. The honey locust rattles.

I can’t say what happens

when the pitch of night turns

while the lamppost flashes forever

beneath me lights up my underskirt.

Whips of wind boost me

drop me. Still my crown widens.

I can’t look at me from a distance.

You say I’m beautiful in spring.

But what of my spots

of lichen that freckle my bark?

My delicate scallops

that split at the slightest tear?

My bulbous knots

that bubble like a bird’s trill?

Among the croons and chaos

the chirps and cackles

the tangles and turns

the splits and seams —


I grow into myself.

First light

casts a kaleidoscope of shadows.

Trunks twist

dance for space in sky.

At bottom what lies

in the loam is yours:

cold crinkled dead ends

of smoke —

inevitable you might say.

But let me insist:

I too thirst and savor.

I too yearn and fear.

I too.

I too.

I too.

So, tell me:

When the day spills out

with the smell of all you abandoned

when I cannot cover

myself in rosy buds

Will you

love me then?

A child

flutters by cries:

Wait for me Mom.

I’m waiting I whisper.

And another engine

roars fades.

An Eastern Redbud tree located in the Jenkintown Town Square in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Meghan Elizabeth Kelley is a poet and writer in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. You can connect with her and more of her work at

Read other long listed pieces here. From 24 November, discover whether this piece made the shortlist — you can listen to it using the app either within or around Sydney Gardens in Bath or remotely.

Find out about all the events running on-line or in Sydney Gardens over the Tree Weekender on 27 & 28 November 2021, and look out especially for the Celebratory Finale Showcase at which the Competition winners and runners-up will be announced.

With special thanks to Dr Richard White and undergraduate students in Participatory Media at Bath Spa University for their support in making the geo-located audio pieces.



Susan Palmer
Sydney Gardens Bath

Community Ranger, Sydney Gardens Project, Bath