The road beneath the giant original trees
sweeps on and cannot wait. Varnished by dew,
its darkness mimics mirrors and is bright
behind the panic eyes the driver sees
caught in headlights. Behind the wheels the night
takes over: only the road ahead is true.
It knows where it is going; we go too.
Sanctuary, the sign said Sanctuary -
trees, not houses; flat skins pinned to the road
of possum and native cat; and here the old tree stood
for how many thousand years? that old gnome-tree
some axe-new boy cut down. Sanctuary, it said:
but only the road has meaning here. It leads
into the world’s cities like a long fuse laid.
Fuse, nerve strand of a net, tense
bearer of messages, snap-tight violin-string,
dangerous knife-edge laid across the dark,
what has that sign to do with you? The immense
tower of antique forest and cliff, the rock
where years accumulate like leaves, the tree
where transient birds and mindless insect sing?
The word the board holds up is Sanctuary
and the road knows that the notice-boards make sense,
but has not time to pray. Only, up there,
morning sets doves upon the power line.
Swung on that fatal voltage like a sign
and meaning love, perhaps they are a prayer.