Roger McGough
Roots

Like a poem around a tree
Like a freedom flag unfurled
A homeless refugee
I have travelled round the world

I remember slanted mountains with dusted white peaks
ivory snow and emerald green trees.
I remember the tickle going up my spine
when birds settled on my branches.
The soft footfall of a passing fox.

I remember the sweet smell of pine-scented smoke
wafting from chocolate log cabins.
I remember thinking that there will come a time soon
When I will no longer remember any of this:

A sickle moon
The scrunching sound of footsteps
A brutal saw chomping through my bark
and the snow slides off me like a silken robe.

The squabble of sea birds and an icy deck
the savagery of ropes and roller-coasting waves,
until eventually, the warm cuddle of sleep.

In a clearing in the concrete forest of a city
I rise to the noise of pigeons and car horns,
Of children laughing and crowds cheering.
With 500 white lights I am adorned. Am excited.
Crowned with a star. I am adored and delighted.

When the children leave and the music stops
And the lights and the words taken down
Unlike the tree I have put down roots
In London, my new home town

Lights, camera, action!
A switch is pulled
and I light up like an angel.


The poem combines lines by Primary schoolchildren who took part in the Poetry Society's Look North More Often project. Commissioned by the Poetry Society.
 

Trafalgar Square Christmas tree main page

The 2011 Christmas tree
Credit: Hayley Madden for the Poetry Society