Venie Environmental Poetry Prize

Painting Trees at Valla by Brian Purcell

By chance they rise from the dull green floor
dappled, pulsating columns
uninterested in my measuring gaze
their stray arches lowering beneath
Autumn’s bright blue dome

How can I paint a leaf
when bunches of leaves pulsate
like cicadas in the sun’s full heat?
While I paint they shrivel, burn

they don’t care –
aristocrats that can’t see
their peasants
begging for recognition.
All I can do is throw it down

get to know what I’m trying to see
admit failure, right here, right now.
I know if I stay for a hundred years
I won’t get close
to what this is

to knowing what they are.
Nor are they concerned –
they have no voice
but what we manufacture in our thoughts.
They’re indifferent – cut them down

their columns will grow in our minds
until we can’t look up
without being blinded
by leaves, pulsating
in the constant breeze


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