The Compass Tree

In my minds eye I see it still a beacon to guide my way
Taller than any buildings surrounding it
Straighter than any ruler could align
Proud for all it has witnessed

Ten feet from the ground the trunk divided a magpie roosted in the nest
One limb gave a bearing of north to the sun
One south one east and one west
And here my cheeks become wet
The echo of frustrated tears

I could not save it I was not there a child I had no perception of the waste
Until the twigs and sticks piled high in our yard
Found when I came home from school
Enraging me to fight
To have it stopped

Held out of harms way I screamed murderous abuse
I ranted and pleaded and begged til hoarse
Still the men brought it down
Piece by piece log by log
The birds and I wept at the sight

The tree still stands as it has for 600 years as proud as ever before
Hopes the travelers wont loose their way
Like a soldier returned bears a lost limb
The Compass Tree
Upon the hill
No longer points west to the bay

And the white haired old man in his beige trousers and vest
In the new house beneath the severed bough
Has a neat tidy garden
To sweep when he mows
And barbie wood to last
For now

The Compass Tree


Frankston, Australia

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 15

Artist's Description

I came home from school one day when I was 15 and lost my innocence and my belief in man!
Our home was the proud protectors of the base of the trunk of the most wonderful gum tree that had stood on the site for over 600 years! This tree was a significant tree with amazingly 4 limbs pointing exactly north south east and west and was locally referred to as The Compass Tree and had been for over 170 years!
[ I dare say the Indigenous peoples would have called it that also!]

…. that was until it had been destroyed by men contracted by the man who lived behind us to remove the limb that hung over his side of the fence!

This was before the council would have either a) refused his application to or b) fined and even jailed him for attempting to do it anyway and the contracted men would never have acted without written council permission

There was no reason for it there was no disease in the tree it was purely to make the man happy! The man built the house and then had the limb cut off had the wood cut into BBQ friendly pieces and stacked it up in his new wood stack beside his new brick BBQ

I had never felt the rage of being “Just a kid” before that day!
And the impotence of being incapable of stopping such senseless selfish small minded ignorant violence!

But believe me for several years after the man never had a moment’s peace in his back yard if I knew he was there! Over night I threw every bit of garden and other rubbish over the fence for him to clean up and if I saw him I shouted out murderer! And when he had guests over for a barbie I raided them with rubbish and assaults and told his precious guests about what he did to the tree!
After a few years I didn’t see him for a very long while and finally our lease was up and we had to leave the house. I don’t know what happened to him and I don’t care! His garden became over grown and the wood rotted and became a haven for spiders. If I destroyed him what did it matter? In the time line of that tree it would have seen many many many men come and go! One more would have meant nothing … except I hope that this one realised the stupidity of his selfishness!
But I will NEVER forget that tree!
Writing this has helped a little!
Thank you

Artwork Comments

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