Poetry for Plants: Reimagining trees along the Landwehr Canal

In summer 2018 we put a call out for Berlin fiction writers and poets to produce 150-word pieces about plants found on the banks of the Landwehr Canal. Angles artist Charys Wilson did water color paintings of a handful of trees along the canal—tagged by number by the city—which we then assigned to the Berlin-based writers who reached out. See what these writers produced below (to be updated weekly).

Tree #316

I am in your world now.
My rules don’t apply here.
My spirit is aching to reject this new space.
An undercurrent of beauty keeps me on your shores.
I use your strength to keep it from pulling.
I feel your connection with this place.
I want to talk with you but we speak in foreign tongues.

The more time I spend here,
the less intrusive I feel.
I am moulding and growing myself in your image.
Studying your slow, soft reactions to the breeze.
Warmth is filling my body, my fear is almost gone.
My mind is changing, now there is courage.
I look at you, ethereal, and wish to belong.

I live here now.
Your rules are my rules.
I feel a connection now with the ground.
Interwoven with you as the Sun raises us.
There is no rush anymore, I am accustomed to silence.
Then my bliss is broken by a beautiful sound.
“It’s wonderful that you’re here”.

– David McIntyre

Tree #55 or buddha had a tree

because of you 
at that particular moment
i remembered the breeze
and i was everything senses
sitting on the corner of your hill
with the
swan in solitude
swims towards me.
wants sustenance.
suddenly i’m in my skin
this self aware 
under the shade 
cast by a summer-still
my refuge under your opulence
this crosshatch sky showing its autumn flight patterns.
this is all
i want to do 
watching your green fingers 
and golden curls
—Maria Mouk

Unnumbered Tree

Don’t hug me. One trillion organisms live in my flesh. They burrow, jitter, witter and die. I suck them into my sap. You are bigger and lumpier and pass by rapidly. Sometimes you squirt a hot trickle onto my side. 
Sometimes two of you push against me, hot and stinking. I almost like you then. The air’s vibrations have transformed since I was a sapling. Deep inside, a few of my rings are scarred by flying metal and lethal fog. 
On my crust the little red creatures spawn again. My branches fan out high high, sipping charged air. My tentacles stretch deep deep, touching water. I breathe your dissolved molecules and recast them as life. 
Take what I give, and hug yourselves.
—David Labi

Tree #134

Ducks tickle my lost leaves in August, as they search for food in the murky green water of the Landwehr Canal below where I live. I love watching them. They’re much more interesting than the humans. I still remember how they placed me here about a hundred years ago, something like that. There weren’t so many machines yet. I’m pretty young. Must be the city carbon steroids and beer pee, I guess. I like the pee. The soot not so much. One of my neighbours is weepy. She lives near a shrub that welcomes the dejected rats that belong with the sad water. Sometimes we weep together. But we’re not too sad. I got a nice hug once.
—Jordan Brown