One day walking in Argyll with my husband we encountered a wishing tree which surprised us a great deal because I didn't know there were any in Scotland. I mean a tree people have bashed coins into for a wish or a desire - I knew they existed in Ireland but had never seen one in Scotland.

The Wishing Tree


I stand neither in the wilderness
nor fairyland,

but in the fold
of a green hill,

the tilt from one parish
into another.

To look at me
through a smirr of rain

is to taste the iron
in your own blood;

because I bear
the common currency

of longing: each wish
each secret visitation.

My limbs lift, scabbed
with greenish coins; I draw

into my slow wood, fleur
-de-lys, the enthroned Brittania.

Beyond, the land reaches
toward the Atlantic.

And though I’m poisoned,
choking on the small change

of human hope, gently
beaten into me, look:

I am still alive;
in fact, in bud.

from The Tree House (Picador, 2004), copyright © Kathleen Jamie 2004, used by permission of the author and Macmillan Publishers.

Kathleen Jamie in the Poetry Store

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