It was the year of the blasted oak
in the heartland of my forest,
a burnt-out silent frame
against a land of ash and flame.
All the trees I believed in died
and the slitty-eyed houses
snuck in and settled in residence,
miles and miles of countless brick.
The world I believed in shrunk
to the walls of a whitewashed room
with only whorls to read from the mantelpiece
the woodlouse on the windowsill was huge.
Time was measured by a ticking watch.
I could not remember where I put it,
in a shoebox or a drawer of odd socks?
Its seconds were long, day and night small.
Yet the roots of the oak ran deep.
Its myriad creatures came through the crevices.
A giant moth landed on my finger.
An upright beetle made his seat on my bed.
They taught me of a world to believe in
hidden between cracks
unmastered by Ronseal and cement,
of many ways between paving stones.
They taught me of trees to believe in,
camouflage of bark and places to lay eggs,
benefits of armour and plight of soft belly,
uses of wings and many legs.
When I left through the hearthfire
the houses pondered dusty wings and an empty shell,
how I’d escaped to a bigger world,
how my forest returned and the blasted oak smiled.
* This poem was sparked by ‘The Blasted Oak’ card from The Wild Wood Tarot and patched together from memories and dreams.