Saturday, April 3, 2010
Upon the rolling heath the prickly gorse
asserts its right to hold its ground by force:
ten thousand lances challenge earth and sky
among the tines its yellow pennants fly.
Beneath its boughs the purple heather grows
and spreads unhindered to the briar rose.
The wiry broom has no sharp armoury
but once adorned the helm of chivalry.
No heavy cavalry or armoured knights
clash in these valleys or the woodland heights,
and where the scrub gives way to hawthorne patch,
no entry there on pain of prick or scratch.
Here the crab-apple and the blackthorn thrives,
their flowers feeding wild apian hives,
whose voices murmur on the summer breeze
against the woodwind chorus of the trees.
What seems an entrance to the tangled wood
is fearsome thicket that has long withstood
rash incursions of animal or man,
but dauntless we must enter if we can.
In dreams the thicket rises once again
barring entry to sleeping realms of pain,
where rupturing the thorny mystery
would reveal nature's hidden theurgy.
Why are there thorns if not to cause us pain,
dire warnings never to return again,
but in our hearts, desire and instinct knows
there flourishes within a perfect rose.
Impenetrable is the inner way:
on waking its clear vision falls away,
the scent persisting in the light of day,
to haunt our being when we flee away.
The children in the wood are terrified
by every tree and thicket that may hide
the scabrous wing or yellowed toothy smile,
of phantom woodsman or the crocodile.
With forests levelled to the ground and all
the land used up for agricultural
production and the sprawling cityscape:
from this dark fate there can be no escape.
The wire once used to hem the cattle in
has been refined to cut and slice the skin
of that tender animal called mankind
who takes delight in torturing the mind.
Army of spiders dressed in sparkling grey,
in the ubiquitous dew at break of day,
the touch of steel upon a downy cheek,
a slake of water from a brackish creek.
Fear lies like a mist, frozen to the ground,
as each warrior feels the imagined wound
that will strike him down in this last battle,
falling on the heath like slaughtered cattle.
Then the flight through the thorn wood and the fall
caught in the thicket, where he cannot crawl,
the nightmare returns as the barbs cut deep
but in this fatal hour he dare not weep.
The roots of fear sink deep into the mind,
lacking nourishment from the ravaged rind,
they seek answers to the roseate riddle
sifting leaden truths through death's dark griddle.
At the limits of each sense doors open
onto a unity of pain, omen
of the dark entanglements of the blood
and the infernal thicket in the wood.