Dawn Redwood – a tree poem for Light Nelson

Dawn Redwood

Hey there! Watch out for my toes! And don’t pull on my branches!
I may not have eyes, but I can see.

So what do you call me? Do you really want to know?
Glyptostroboides is my first name, and Metasequoia my family.

But my friends call me Dawn Redwood – most appropriate I find,
as the sun rises and illuminates my crown and rusty tints.

My parents come from China: “shui-shan”, I heard them call me
but I’m a local now, rooted in the community.

To save our threatened species, they sent their children to
foster around the globe, and several here in New Zealand.

I was born in 1951, planted beside the eel pond in damp, mulched soil,
ideal to avoid ageing skin and threadbare branches.

As some relish a suntan, so I enjoy my autumn coat of copper,
before I shed my finger-like foliage to wallow in winter’s sleep.

Fast growth is one of my attributes, and I’m aiming for 23 metres.
My girth keeps me rigid in the cruellest of storms and measures one fifth of my height.

But in these tranquil gardens where all people can find peace,
it’s not my size or skin I’m proud of, but my symmetry and grace.