Hill and tree poems

Tess Ashton

5 May 2015

A church and a bell

I’ve seen a tree on a hill
(with a church and a bell)
out my window
for 17 years now
alone without leaves
I now realize
must be dead
from this side of the river
who knows
yet says
‘I stand for all
things set apart
by those with an eye
for things placed
on a hill
or a table
for contemplation’
and I realize
it’s a dead tree talking
warming the living
saying love
is complete
in all things


when i look at the
tree on the hill
with the church and the bell
and the river in front
and the bush
on the edge
of cloud-touched tracks
the slow-moving rhythm
of the sky above
a poem no less
with a train
running through

but what is a poem
but truth coming forth
like Heidegger’s
or a moment
of leaving from
a railway station

the crying most often
i come to the
hill sounds the call
for children
hungry and dying
how best to help
where are
they exactly?

a feeling below
of small hollow boats
on long empty rivers
forgotten then
sailing then lifting
on rainbows
children and babies
no fanfare
or tombstones

Yang Yang and the view from the back

Above the tree on the hill there’s a Catholic
church with woods backed up facing
us  Off the flat ‘burb road from
the cul de sac entry
there’s a school
too I

seen lately
What the kids don’t
know there’s a hill stretching
downwards to a pink-blue river sky in its
mirror  On the back of the hill the sun comes
early shifting things in the dark with
light across pasture  Think often
of ‘yi yi: a one and a two

a movie that speaks
of forgotten
views  A boy
with his camera
clicks heads from the
back  says we all need help
with the tracks we’re immune to 
On Sunday went swimming in singing and

sermon and movie and river and light on hill
gliding  caught the rear view from
Colossians too  the wind of
the Spirit showed some-
thing odd though
a cloud of my
jiggled a warning

Shamed  to name sins
that cut into focus   Today
stroked the back of a neck of a loved
one felt the scar where hearing was taken
forever  Clever Yang Yang to spot a least thought about angle  

The days and nights of Manapau St

pink blue
blue orange
orange black
black black

sets the red station light
moon of the train
the bridge and town
alight in the distance
clack clack

as the train goes by
with the river
and clouds
who’d move?
relax relax

you might touch God
it’s paradise
in the cosy ‘burb
most times most times

and the hills over there
and the river
in front
and lights and city
in tiny perspective
this place this place

here clouds
and people
stride together
the old troll bridge
to catch the train
to town to town

past our verandah
meander the station
the edge of the
the way of the journey
so near so near

Meadowbank kids
perch in formation
itching til airborne
bedrooms like hurricanes
ducks going somewhere
lift off lift off

by tides and timetables
hearts spin back
to days and nights
of pink and blue
and orange and black
think back think back

Fool on the hill

outa that scene
for good
rear view
tells a story
giant sun
not disaster
on the hill

home alone
rays bear down
four years
dug out
in twenty

nervy dream
old scene
In the elevator
heading for
the upper
be still
St Francis

next day
wander to
garden centre
a rose
my name
chosen for
spring promotion
heart felt
swirl of love
birthday gift
from heavenly

©Tess Ashton

Image  The Slain Tree  Eric Lee-Johnson c. 1945, Auckland, New Zealand