Unlike the oak, this is not a child’s tree. But I have put away childish things and am unafraid now.
Its bark is so gnarled and striated. Its crown is never far from the ground. Its fallen branches root without much difficulty which means that the trees seem to gather like a clan ready for battle. Its crown weighs you down and so its shade is very dark.
And then there are berries which, except for the bright red aril, are poisonous, like every part of the tree.
And that these arils are really highly modified cones and that the yew is considered a conifer simply adds to the mystery.
This image is by Tacita Dean (born 1965, British) of the great yew at Crowhurst in Surrey, UK. 2006. Gouache on gelatin silver print.
MOMA, New York.
Like the toxic fine pollen which may induce violent headaches. Like the gas it gives off when the weather is very hot, which is a hallucinogen. Like the cancer-killing medicine made from a compound extracted from its needles.
And that the trunks of old yews are often hollow and chapels have been installed in them in France.
Like its presence in cemeteries where no animals can come to root among the dead.