The Old Forest


Watching and waiting, the Old Forest trees
Darkly consider the passage of travelers.
Proud and bitter, silently stooping over them,
Maliciously blocking their way and turning their path.
In great strength they once covered all the lands of the North -
Though few now remember it, aside from them.
The parts remaining are but embattled islands
In a hostile sea of smooth farmlands.
Where only the twisted remains of tilted stumps,
Their dry roots still clawing in death, reaching up to the sky -
Branches long dead and gone give the evidence of
The passing of the trees; ash-heaps lay in the yards, and
Smoke rises from the chimney-tops of the farmhouses.

Trees hardened and twisted, aged and bitter,
Remember the fading death of the forest and
The slow amputation of its limbs of wood and copse,
Like a creeping gangrene,
A leprosy that withers away the body one piece at a time.
The Old Forest waits and broods,
And bears no good-will towards its neighbors.
Nor the Hedge that marks the territorial line
And claims the Forest's inherited land for their own.

The Old Forest watches the travelers and waits.

The depths of communal memory hold that terrible day
The Forest rose up and tried to reclaim the land;
How the trees planted themselves right up to the Hedge,
And leaned over it to grasp at the tree-killers descendants.
And the fire - it remembers that too, with a shudder
And a deep, deep hatred.
The trees cut down and burned - burned together:
A battle's funeral pyre.
The smoke rose and darkened the air, black and acrid.
Yes, they remember the Bonfire Clearing
And will not set root there.
A dark memorial and a grave.

Deep is the malice of those so long in dark brooding,
Deep is the hatred and desire for revenge.
Dark lies the memory of their fallen greatness;
There is no forgiveness in them.
Muting any voice that tries to sing -
Limbs drop in front of those who dare to travel there,
The roots trip them, trailing growths drag at them -
The paths mysteriously shift
In gray-green enmity against all they represent.
The Old Forest watches them... and waits.


A. Buckles / '03