Such comfortable trees, those old melaleucas.
They look at themselves on the shores of lakes,
or get their feet wet in treacle-brown creeks.
You see them too in suburban avenues.
With their generous wrappings of loose bark
they make me think of ancient relatives
in shabby dressing gowns, shuffling
to bed with hot-water bottles, milky drinks
and a book to put them to sleep.
Paperbarks welcome climbing children
with obligingly low boughs, don’t mind
if they peel off the pastel, papery layers,
so soft in the hand. But it’s summertime
when their kindness knows no bounds
and those creamy clouds of blossom
hum with bees and smell of warm honey.