They have been man- i-curing the Glen – they on machines leaving tyre tracks, heavy in the mud, pointing to the places of decimation where limbs of branches pile up or lay strewn across the undergrowth, mashed up and ground down. There will be no more bird callings from the bare branched elms, the lumber has been carried off and parked in the council depot; we’ve been watching the neat piles rising for some time behind the palisade fencing and that new silver man-gate. The piles ebb and flow from there as the machines come in and out with their neatly cut loggings. It cuts deep this activity. On any occasion I have asked a council parks attendant worker about what they are doing I hear their mantra I’m employed from the neck down.
I remember that other time I watched a machine cut away half a pine leaving it one sided from root to tip because it had extended its branches over a bordering fence, smelling the sap that hung in the air long before I knew the extent of the cull, the piny branches were being fed into a shredder.. what are you doing? I asked. What the boss man asked, he replied. I looked at his van, tree surgeon writ large. Are you the tree surgeon? I asked. I am. Do you know the name of this tree? I know the cuts I have to make he said.
I am told the surgeon on this job in the Glen is Dermot Casey. I remember passing a sign on the roadside North towards Mallow, only this morning, Dermot Casey it read, Plant Hire.
This is a culture to which I do not belong. A busy busyness of labouring with machines for development for somebody else – the they – the they who wants to get in quick and pull out better-off, leaving a wake of small time concessions after their plunderings, lining their pockets or the pockets of the next one higher up, and trampling all that is inconsequential on the way to their goal. This is a brutal culture condoning insentient behaviours and I do not belong.
The birds are calling from other branches this dusk
Looking through the fence…beside the neatly piled up lumber are some young trees – roots balled up and exposed, they seem to have been left there in haste, my eyes reach through the metal bars
The bulrush heads are all action, unzipping on their stems, their heads somehow coming loose and scattering, along with their hollow stalks, across path and wetland. Their brown heads closely shaved and immaculate, now bursting into little brain-lets of clustering seed filaments, then stripping off into fluff and then striking off again, combed and stranded by the wind, then becoming airborne in one direction or another, the river bears them west till they find a place to rest. I gather up some of the brian-lets into a cotton handkerchief, one given for every pocket by my mother, to bring away for her pond.
Coigeal na mban sí – translates as spindle of the banshee
I leave the strangled mess of tangled trees behind, trusting nature’s urgency to reform the place, its only time, always time, that changes one shifting state to the next.