Eucalyptus Camaldulensis; River Red Gum
Small digit temperatures outside,
chunky eucalypt in ready piles.
Its muscled blocks like sentries,
on watch in garages and proximate porches.
Deep crimson and sienna combined,
some logs with the look of new-dried blood.
Formally classified and grown in Naples,
and colonists here felled acre upon acre.
The tree’s robust seed offered for exchange
by botanist, Cunningham to Chief Gardener, Dehnhardt.
Off to Italian shores with high Empire and plantsmen,
a grove’s destruction came prior to taxonomic rescue.
This hardy wood’s welcome heft on the arm,
exudes such earthen scent when spliced.
Yet River Red Gum’s density and girth,
divides the novice chopper from the expert.
Healing tree, craft and shelter for Aboriginal people,
hosting diverse creatures along their watercourses.
Tonne after tonne fed early steam power,
now best burning fuel in hungry domestic grates.
Katherine Healy has published poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction. She gained her Master of Letters in Creative Writing from Central Queensland University, is a member of the South Australian Writers’ Centre, and currently has a historical novel as a work-in-progress.
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