The Cork Oak of Portugal
Riding the bus down and along—
Lisbon to Faro on the Algarve coast,
passing through dry, hilly forests—
from the distance of your seat, they
seem to be the same burly oaks
of California—many with canopies
wider than they are tall—called
the “queros suber” cork oaks of Iberia—
thick cushions growing flush around
the trunks—this fine cork trucked on
to Oporto, where reds, whites and rose’
are bottled and sent to a thousand ports.
But one famous tree cannot be missed, as
your bus rumbles along, not far from the E1
Highway, bigger than the rest—oldest
and largest cork tree in the world with
a diameter of 14 feet and a height growing
over 60—see here how just one tree
befriends the wine lovers of the world.
Harvested every ten years, even harvested
20 times, since planted in 1783.
one harvest year produced 2600 pounds,
proving that just one tree can cork a million
bottles of wine; yet birdwatchers say,
this tree is even a greater friend to the
hundreds of songbirds that rest and nest
inside its’ branches—singing out
the morning’s glory of Iberian days, for
as said in the linguistic sounds of this land,
in what the Portuguese call the Whistler Tree—
O grande arvore do assobiador.
Reed Venrick lives in Florida; has visited Portugal several times; usually writes poems with nature themes.