Posts tagged ‘forest’

04/04/2018

Loneliness

Loneliness is a companion as tangible as a veil. It shrouds the world of interaction, of closeness and of companionship, leaving nothing but truth for the lonely to face.

On the moors, with the wind blowing in strong from the west, rain showers gusting through you, it is possible to feel vulnerable, isolated with your frailties laid bare. But loneliness… loneliness is something you carry within. The towns and villages, teeming with summer tourists, are as lonely a place as the wildest peak.

Many of the characters in my tales, both living and passed, are lonely. They live their lives alone, and understand that we all die our own death, and face it alone. The circumstances that bring each character to their loneliness may differ, but it is how they face that realization that, to a lesser or greater extent, defines them.

In “Annabel” (the opening story of The Wedding Invitation: Vol. 3 of Ghosts and Other Tales), loneliness is the central theme. For the narrator, the fact that Alice – the main protagonist – lives on her own, without (obvious) friends or family, in a remote cottage is the very definition of loneliness. The narrator sees it as a common problem for many older people in such a rural community, as indeed it is. For Alice, though, loneliness is not defined by isolation. Loneliness for her is being separated from that which she loves. It is the division of the soul.

You are alone, in a forest on the darkest night of the year. All around you are the sounds of creatures in amongst the branches. You cannot see the path in front of you clearly. You slip on the tree roots. You are alone.

You wake, and the sounds you thought were creatures in the night, were the beeping of the life support machines all around you, and the sounds of the nurses and doctors, trying their best for you. They are out there.

You are alone.

(Photographs copyright Gavin Jones)

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10/03/2013

Leighton Moss

 

1. The Ghosts

 

So nothing dies, it lingers on,

It sinks beneath the matted reeds,

It hovers on the winter air,

It wraps its roots around the oak.

 

A bear has whispered through the woods,

Its tundra paws are soft as moss.

We see it in our open hearts,

We call it from its long lost path.

 

A lynx is in the reed bed’s edge.

Its stories deep as morning mist,

We summon memories from its shade,

Its whiskers taste of vanished dawn.

 

The sedge and forest, lake and burn,

All echo with the drifts of death.

 

 

2. The Wood Well Oak

 

The time zones buckled, seasons bent,

The rings lay thick, then thin, then lost,

As moisture, snows and distant droughts,

Were channeled through its heart of wood.

 

It stood beside a woodland well,

With leaves of cloth and dreams of love.

The people circled round like rings,

They merged their hopes with form and place.

 

A hundred years it took to rot:

From deep within the fungus grew.

It fell, one April, in a storm:

But even then its Spring leaves bloomed,

 

The wood well oak became the land.

The circles stopped, the cycle rolled.

 

3. Reed Bed

 

The waters teem with life and death,

Electric fevers of the Spring,

They’ve waited for their time to come:

In sun and light they burst and fade.

 

The land is crawling, grasping air,

It gasps for rain and captures birds,

It lifts and folds its crystal tears.

The land is dust and rock and grave.

 

The reeds are caught between these worlds.

They play the air and call to land,

Their echo-verse is ages old,

They breathe the water’s swirling song.

 

Fragility – it marks this place –

Where life wells up, but leaves no trace.

 

 

4. Bittern Fire

 

The light explodes in neural fires,

And life – intense and candle bright –

Reflects its spark from reed to reed,

And smokeless burns from eye to eye.

 

Invisible, the bittern blends.

Within the reeds it bleeds its form,

Through willow stumps, to deepest sedge,

Where only beak and eye are sharp –

 

Are photon sharp, are stark as stars.

The final sight the frog will see:

A dart of light, a blade, an eye,

Then gone and gulped and nothing more.

 

The bittern merges with the sun.

The life is one, the reed bed home.

 

5. The Last of Winter (A Northern Song)

 

The winter-scattered waxwings pause

For breath in rowans, twilight peached,

And dusted with the northern lights,

Vermillion and yellow chrome.

 

A Kalevala dance of wings,

Of brambling orange, white and black,

Of fieldfare stories, flighting seas,

At night with redwings, sharp as snows.

 

And on the lake the goldeneye,

Which fledged the earth, now dives for ice.

It pulls the songs out of the pike,

Then pops and bobs and shivers wings.

 

The tundra sun is turning round.

The arctic calls: its losts are found.

 

 

6. Saplings at the Margins

 

Embraced by roots and twisted truths,

With molten magic coursing through,

The bursting stems and latent forms

Are whole and fragments, buds and bark.

 

Conducting sun and seeping earth,

The branches whip the sky and marsh.

The sap they suck from distant stars

Is swirled in centuries of growth.

 

A universe is wrapped in reeds:

A fecund, replicating world,

A place of bird song, frog song, birth,

An immanence of creaks and leaves.

 

The sedge and willow bend and bow:

A pen and flute within the flow.

 

 

29/11/2012

The Ancient Beech

 

The ancient beech was born in fire,

And married twice to priestly kings.

Its bark was burnt and deeply scarred.

Its leaves poured light and raised the earth.

 

The mast around was stained with blood,

And matted thick with offered hair.

A thousand years the beech had grown,

It touched the sun and stroked the moon.

 

Its roots had spread beyond the wood,

Beneath the charcoal burner’s house,

Beneath the gardens, streets and towns,

And out beneath the mythless world.

 

The ancient beech was lost to truth:

Was married twice, and twice forgot.

14/11/2012

Cairngorm Garden (Abernethy Forest)

 

The pines are silent, weighed with snows,

All needle black and evening rose.

The days mere stars between the nights

Beneath the trees it’s rarely light.

 

Aurora haunted foxes cross

The lichens crisp and sphagnum moss,

They scent the age-old meeting sights:

Another generation fights.

 

It’s been a heavy day up high,

And buntings flitter from the sky:

A scattered dance of fawn and white,

Their misting calls of mountain heights.

 

This shadow garden deep in frost:

Its ancient ways and tracks are lost.