Goat Willow


We thought the Willow had died,

but the bees around her catkins –

fluffily emerging in early Spring –

happily denied our errant view.


She’s a Goat or Pussy Willow,

dug from a field in Wales.

A fragrant companion on the journey back,

replanted behind our London home.


The Willow appears to be female:

Ruth-like amongst alien trees,

gleaning what light can be had,

alone with the dews of Hiraeth.


She is, however, a hardy tree.

Where Sycamores steal the sun

a branch is withered dry.

But on her other side, stems reach


high and asymmetrically.

Willows bend but do not break,

they say, at least not easily.

Resilience in metaphor.


Perhaps she’s grasped the

Elder’s roots or sends messages

via bees in pollen code to other

lonely trees in nearby Kew.






Notes (for those who would like to read them):


  • The willow was growing in the middle of my overgrown field in West Wales. I brought it (her) back to Richmond in the car, stopping overnight on the way. It’s fragrance displaced the traffic smell of M4 air.
  • Ruth – see Exodus.
  • Hiraeth is a Welsh word, probably not fully translatable, but denotes a feeling of longing for one’s homeland of Wales.
  • An Elder tree, kindly sown by a bird, stands about 10 metres from the Willow. It’s now known that trees join roots with other trees and that the link is used to transfer nutrients to a tree in distress. A fine thread-like fungus, Mycelium, is also known to link tree roots underground in what has been described as a Wood Wide Web.
  • Willows, unlike most trees, have male and female types. Also unlike most trees, they rely on bees to pollenate each other and procreate (by shedding seeds). I have used a bit of poetic license, as bees take pollen from male to female trees, the male sending out a bee friendly scent and displaying bright yellow flowers to entice the bees to collect male pollen before visiting the female tree.
  • To avoid in-breeding, trees can analyse pollen and ‘reject’ any that is too close to their genetics.