Week 9 ‘Of Trees and Me’ by Pat Ingoldsby


I am thrilled to have permission to post this poem by Irish poet Pat Ingoldsby . It follows the theme from week 8 .

week 9. 北京公共汽车站Beijing-Bus-Stop-132x-90-cm-oil-on-canvas Niamh-Cunningham倪芙瑞莲 2014


Leaning against a fragrant brown telegraph pole,
waiting for my bus,
breathing in the rich aroma of creosote
which was leaking out,
and loving the tarry scent of it.
“Excuse me” said the pole quietly.
“Were you a tree once?”
“Goodness… no,” I said. “I’m a person.”
“Yes,” said the pole. “But are you sure
you weren’t a tree?”
“Sure, I am. I was a baby, then a small boy,
a teenager and a man like I am now.”
And suddenly, before I needed to say anymore,
my bus came and with great relief,
I was gone.
Lying in bed later that night,
I was thinking about the pole
which is just across the road from my house.
I was thinking about it a lot.
Part of me was going to get up,
get dressed, go across the road
and tell a convincing lie to it.
But sleep came
and for the second time that day,
I was gone.

Pat Ingoldsby, April 2019


Pat Ingoldsby was born in Malahide and has lived in Dublin all his adult life. He began his career as a DJ on RTE in the 60s. During the 70s and 80s, he wrote plays for national stages and the radio, imagined and hosted his own childrens’ TV shows, had newspaper columns and travelled around Ireland performing his poems. Weary with fame, he withdrew from mass media in the early 90s to devote his time to his poems, continuing to perform them and selling his books on the streets. Besides the very singular surreal poems that riddle all of Pat’s books, his poems talk about life – a childhood spent by the sea, finding his way as a young man, depression, psychiatric hospitals, polio, people he met throughout his life, those he met while selling on the streets, the exchanges he had with them, what he saw as he sat on an upturned box watching Dublin life go by. These days he continues to write poetry which is uploaded on media and managed by a long-term friend Vivienne (Baillie). Some of his books contain the note that they are protected by the Bratislava Accord 1993 section 2 cre/009 manifest-minsk which allegedly protect the content of his books from being included in : school textbooks, examinations, elocution lessons or anything with the word ‘Arts’ in it. Pat’s first books of poems were published by various houses in Dublin. Tired of being disappointed, Pat decided to publish his own books (Willow publications) .

Memory Palace of Trees 2020 is an ecological art practice which invites your participation to tell a story (or give some kind of information) about trees. It is a social enquiry of how to live better with the planet and with people. You are cordially invited to tell me your story of a tree or trees. (email : niamh@niamhcunningham.com) I would love to hear from you . Each week throughout 2020 a story will be posted with either an artwork already made or perhaps your story will inspire me to make a new work! 


I will post another of the poem by Ingoldsby later in the year .