Lost #3

For part 1 see Lost #1

For part 2 see Lost #2

Lost #3

I sit until my bones become weary and the grass becomes cold and damp beneath me; the glow-worms slowly flicker and fade and I am alone. Around me the trees softly sough in the night wind and I shiver. I am not dressed for this; my clothes seem unfamiliar and I get to my feet again.

The darkness has become less intense and I realise that the light is
starting to return and I scan the sky for signs of dawn. As the black
becomes navy blue and then a grey tinged with pink I can see I am
surrounded by trees which have grown up somewhat twisted and gnarled, their lower branches accessible even to me.

I walk round, my feet leaving a silvery trail in the dew laden grass
and select a tree I think I may be able to climb and find a massive
oak, its bark green with lichen and moss and scramble up into the
lower branches without much problem. Up and up I climb, awkward and inept and trembling at times when I look down.

It’s one of the tallest trees and when I reach the canopy, and have to
stop to catch my breath, I make the mistake of looking down. A tangle of branches weave in and out like a mandala below me and my mind becomes confused by the pattern. I shut my eyes and try to focus.

I open them and steady myself, gripping the wood tightly and shift a
little so I can turn left and right without risking slipping. Over
the sea of greens, the sun is rising, a great red ball that becomes
golden as I watch the mists spiralling up out of the forest. For as
far as my eyes can see, there is only trees, mile upon mile of
forest. I can see no roads or significant clearings beyond some that
seem to be where the more ancient of trees have fallen to their
deaths. I see no buildings or signs of people. In the extreme
distance, I can see the faintest glimmer of a mountain range, a thin
blue line of hummocks at the furthest horizon.

The forest is waking as I stand gazing over the canopy and I can hear birds and other creatures greeting the new day and I can also hear my stomach rumbling.

Slowly I realise that having got up this high, I have now to get down again and after fixing the direction of those mountains in my mind, I begin my shaky descent.

As I climb nervously down, all I can think about is that sea of green
and the miles of endless forest ahead of me. 

Tree Gods

 

Tree Gods

 

They wait, these trees.

Slender children of older gods,

Mighty as towers but long gone,

Fallen to ruin and leaf mould.

They wait, these trees.

Winters pass like melting snow;

The glades grow dense, with brambles

Hiding their burrowing feet.

Moss-furred stumps,

The bones of their ancestors

Remind them of past glories.

They wait, these trees.

Summers pass like blooming flowers.

The dells ring with song

And deer run in hidden paths

Of dappled sun and shade.

They wait, these trees.

The tiny child grows up,

Grows old and passes on,

Houses rise and houses fall

Towns boom, towns bust,

Kings and queens come and go.

The trees alone remain.

 

The Great Forest

This is the Major Oak; thought to be well over 900 years old. It needs a little help these days.... 

 

The Great Forest
 
The Great Forest begins
Where my garden ends.
I dare not go there
Except by deepest night
When I take to the skies
Amid the hunting owls.
By day, I see nothing
But the odd glimpse
Of miles of woodland,
Dense and secret
Beyond the wooden fence.
If I approach, come close
And look beyond the barrier,
It's only another garden,
Wild for suburbia
But tamed nonetheless.
The Great Forest haunts me,
Living in snapshot moments
When I sense it's there,
Unseen by others,
Invisible by daylight,
Waiting for nightfall
And those who leave behind
Both bodies and bedrooms
To enter its borders,
Trembling with fear
And the sense of coming home.
The Great Forest lingers,
Hidden in scrubby thickets,
And litter-strewn copses,
In untended gardens
Reverting rapidly to wildness,
And in the ancient memory
Of huge and silent trees,
Of sun-filled clearings
Paved with wildflowers,
In prison-colony plantations,
With larch and pine
Chained in dead-straight rows.
The Great Forest lives on
In the green-scented breeze
On a summer's evening,
Blown from far away,
Bringing scents of woodland,
Musk of deer and boar
And the forgotten bear and wolf,
Making us shiver as we sit
In tended gardens by candlelight,
Clutching glasses of foreign wine,
And struggle to remember something
That is lost in these moments.
The Great Forest still stands
In every persistent sapling
That cracks walls to grow,
In every clipped and shaped yew
Bent in ornamental servitude.
It lives on in the waste-ground,
In forgotten corners of gardens
And in ancient churchyards
Guarded by yews of such age
That they seem like living stone.
I stand at my window
And seek the Great Forest
Beyond my garden fence.
In every green breath I draw,
I smell the heart of the forest,
And beyond it, the Sea. 

 

I wrote this poem some years ago when we lived not too far away from the great Sherwood Forest…Our garden was an acre corner of the original eight acre rectory garden and on a summer day, looking from an upstairs window the trees melded and blended till you could imagine it went on forever.

Sherwood Forest is a tiny remnant of old growth forest that once covered much of the English midlands up into south Yorskhire. You can still get lost there if you try hard enough…