This Old Bloodwood

A poem by Sam McKechnie from Woolgoolga, NSW.

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A giant bloodwood tree
An old Bloodwood tree. Photo: National Register of Big Trees (Australia)
The rains have been
you can tell by looking at the estuary,
only days ago

a famished brown worn now,
having feasted,
a magnificent turquoise serpent

shimmering scales flexing and refracting
with great surging gasps
of tidal breath

the cicadas’ raucous buzzing
sounding almost
like laughter

the clouds a lucid grey-white canopy
subduing summer-heat
to a steady uterine warmth

and it’s true, I feel small as a child
standing here
beside elders such as he

this old bloodwood,
gnarled and knotted limbs
tell of centuries elapsed

deep, deep roots
drinking from the memory of the earth itself
the stories that bleed

through cracks and ruptures 
of his weather-beaten skin,
the sap that heals

the voice of the wind in his leaves
tells of times when the people
would bring the young boys to him

wild, untamed half-formed humans
and he would shape them
into men of honour

raining his flowers down upon them,
reminder of the respect and grace
that gives them life

with hearts wounded by such wild beauty unbound,
they would learn
to weep like men

for the joy and pain
of life…
but those days have passed

now the boys remain boys;
though their minds and bodies grow
they forget what gives them life

and so try to steal it from the earth,
not knowing
it was once given freely

and still the old one stands,
bent and bleeding
under the weight of his forgotten memories

Thank you Sam for sending me your poem!

Homework: Reflect on the poem

  • What is the "elder" Bloodwood tree witness of?
  • Apart from nature, what is the main theme of this poem?
  • Use your own words to describe the old and new way.
  • How do you think we could prevent boys to remain boys today?

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Cite this page

Korff, J 2020, This Old Bloodwood, <https://stage.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/arts/poems/this-old-bloodwood>, retrieved 17 June 2024

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