The Bone Orchard

At the weekend I went back to the old home town, Northampton, to plant a tree for my Dad with my Mum and sister a year on from his death – a positive thing to do at an otherwise gloomy time. This is the fourth time I’ve had to do this for a loved one or friend (fifth, if you count a green burial I went to about 20 years ago – the first in the county). It seems the greenest way to go – far less damaging to the environment than cremation, although ashes make good compost, encouraging new growth. A woodland burial is the ultimate form of recycling, and certainly my preferred choice. A memorial tree is a positive symbol of new life and can be visited by loved ones for years to come. Here is the sonnet I wrote for this most recent occasion:

Poem for Memorial Tree

Belov’d slender sapling of tender years

Earth-bidden you are to set spirit free.

From this soil, may your soul soar heavenward

Aspiring skywards like limbs of this tree.

In good measure, may the sweet, sweet rain fall

And water with precious tears thy young roots.

Though bewintered and bare be your branches

Memory offers the rarest of fruits.

Soft, soft light of sun smile benign on thee,

In fertile shadows feed deep from good earth.

Spring come! Bring forth bud, shoot, flower and leaf.

And let all who wander here see your worth.

Hallowed corner, with our loyal hearts we lease.

Where kith and kin shall pilgrim, be at peace.

Kevan Manwaring


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