Ailish Woollett – Three Poems




Think small.

Think, the size of a fingernail.

The smooth, pea-skin nodule
ruptured, split
by the singular, questing limb.
The radicle, the tap root

aching down into the wet dark
with white, translucent fingers.

It breathes in the undergrowth,
metres below the surface,
and spreads its fibrous influence.



The ground dapples.
Everything is impermanent
and always shifting,

but the shoot rises,
creaks as it multiplies
its fleshy tissues.

A pulsing ligament,
exposed to the wind.
Pulpy, verdant, dripping,

it births its vital organs,
the xylem, the phloem,
membranous and vulnerable.

Drawn inexorably up,
motes of water torn
to their smallest breath,

dissipated, ghosted,
vaporised right to the edge,
exhaled into the open sky.

Leaves catch the falling sunlight
with open mouths, like children
sweet and high on sugar,

passing out
their glutinous diamonds.
An indiscriminate showering of gifts.

Branches quiver towards the sky,
roots weave and suck, in this manic,
unthinking expansion of the biomass.

The Fall

Perhaps it will be Dutch Elm Disease
or Chestnut Blight – the sudden death
of entire acres. Armillaria root rot,
Oak wilt and Anthracnose
are much more subtle.

Perhaps the rain will not fall.
Roots will shrivel and brown,
gasping for water and finding none.
Slow and old in the heat,
the last drop of sap, leeched
into the hot air, goes unnoticed.

Perhaps a flood or heavy snow.
The river tears the branches
like an overeager lover. Once breached,
the frost climbs inside, the fungi
or the biting insects stake their claim.
This micro aggression, chipping away
at the dark coffee heartwood, goes unnoticed.

Perhaps the towering oak,
aching with the long centuries,
crumbles under the weight
of its own magnificence.
Shedding moss and leaves,
embracing arms creak, snap,
land in the belly of the soil rot
with a sigh, like a letting go.

It begins the long descent,
in surrender to the baleful air,
lays its body down
among worms and beetles,
to be broken and devoured,
to be made insignificant,
to become again, without meaning,
something unborn and small,
the size of a fingernail.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Beauty is an idea. It is subjective perception. Anything, presented in the exact same circumstances, could be considered either beautiful or ugly. In poetry, I like to think about euphony, the pleasantness of sounds. It is interesting to think that this is all language specific and culturally relative. However, beauty is also something like a universal emotion. Experiencing something that strikes you as beautiful is a unique kind of joy. Caused by an aesthetic object, requiring only appreciation, it is an unfettered joy.


Ailish is a recent graduate with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing. She lives in Manchester and irregularly performs at poetry open mic events. This is her first professional publication.