A Poem by Patrick Cotter

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

The Discoveries of Thomas Fynch

The noise of trees is mostly unheard by man
but trees are full of feeling like people
and leaves are their vocal cords.
So discovered Thomas Fynch
who became aficionado of rustles,
expert on the Aspen leaf’s white sonic poise;
who grew to know pine needles keened
before their boles were felled for coffins
and wrote of the chestnut’s clack-clack
when slapped by raindrops and the crackling
of underground fire amidst the ash tree’s rooted filigree.

He was born deaf, but his deafness was banished
when his infant body was passed by the village
healer through the cleft of a split juniper.
As the bush healed, the sound of the Earth
grew stronger in Thomas’s ears. Among
his discoveries: the melancholy cry
of the Serengeti acacia is addressed solely
to giraffes who hear the leaves say “eat me, eat me”
in clickety giraffe tongue; undersea forests of kelp
record in analogue on their ululating thalli
the songs of extinct whales replayed when caressed
by waters of a neap tide; graveyard yews draw up
through their roots the weeping of the dead
on All Souls’ Day; the protests of gust-ruffled oak leaves
can be silenced at night by piercing the bark
with a beloved’s toenails, clipped after a clamorous orgasm.

He plans to invent contraptions to help others to hear
what he and birds and insects hear, by combining
graphene nanowear with the ear nerves of bluebottles and finches
so even you can listen to the tulip summon the blackbird
when slugs attack or to the choral symphony
manuka blossoms sing to burrows of bumble bees.

Patrick Cotter has published several books including Perplexed Skin (Arlen House, 2008) and Making Music (Three Spires, 2009). He is a recipient of the Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry. Other new work is about to appear in Poetry, Poetry Review and the Irish Times.

You will find more poems here. You may contact the editor at poems@theawl.com.