On an island just south of the future we discovered
a tree that grows downward from the sky.
We could not conceive in what manner of sky-soil
its roots might be set, nor how it could stay
suspended thus, scarce beyond reach of urchins
and adventurers who would surely have tried to scale it
out of sheer impudence, or to unearth its secret,
lost in clouds of the forbidden past.
Beneath its broad inverted canopy, children
would gather mushrooms and paint magic scenes
with rainbow colours pressed from iridescent globes
that lay about, ripe droppings of the Sky-Tree,
as it was called by the wagoners who would trundle by,
delivering candlesticks to the village across the river –
their voices lit up in reciprocal greeting when we
waved excitedly, and they would dismount
with tender anecdotes of homelands beyond the hills.
One, especially, used to steal spirited glances
at my precocious sister, who, not unaware
of her fragrant allure, would puff out her cheeks
and strut about under the Sky-Tree’s disapproving gaze:
her antics pitched the yokel to such gusts of laughter
and desire that once, as he chased her through the filigrees
of his own shadow, his soul, trailing in the breeze,
caught the tip of a sky-branch swaying sternly
as if to protect the virgin, and the great tree gave out
a shudder so regretful that the earth grew dim
under a carpet of cascading memory,
and we could swear the sky itself was about to tumble.