The Forests will Echo with Laughter. Part 1.

entry picture

The night Amelia Hamilton was born

the caravan was battered by a gale.

Her mother gripped the drop-down bed and scorned

the father who was now

a thousand miles away.

 

The caravan site owner made it clear 

that babies have to pay their rent as well

so young Amelia passed the next ten years 

in custody of Gran

where none would wish to dwell.

 

Daily beatings, smacks and vicious words

reduced the shrinking girl to nothingness.

Her deficit of comeback merely spurred 

the harridan to double

her bouts of nastiness.

 

Mum got jailed then came out on parole

and claimed her daughter’s custody again.

Soon Amelia was attending school,

devouring the chalk equations

with hungry eyes agog.

 

The other girls took umbrage at her sharpness,

her difference, and by way of a reminder

they locked her in a cupboard in the darkness.

It took a whole weekend 

for caretakers to find her.

 

She gained her grades to glowing satisfaction 

of Mother, Gran, and Dad (who had come home).

At college, boys were never much distraction.

Her crew-cut head

had never seen a comb.

 

Nostril pierced, tattooed, bandana turbanned,

mesmerised by Florence And The Machine,

resistant and incorrigibly urban,

no one dared to fuck with

our feisty heroine.

 

But through the hermetic filter in her lodgings

she’d smell the wild enticements of the wind,

feel the purring of the woodland pigeons

and wonder when her quota

of being would begin.

 

Whence her zeal for taxidermy stemmed

no one could have pinned a prudent guess.

One day she was a model student, then

she plunged into the craft

with utmost eagerness.

 

Roadkill first, then moving on to pets

where all the realistic money lay.

One parrot settled all her student debt.

She sought out natural death:

she’d no regard for game.

 

Her course-work dwindled to irrelevance.

Amelia had found her true vocation

and soon dropped out, applying diligence 

to setting up in this

exciting occupation.

 

Her showroom was a shrine to the bizarre:

animals upright and wearing clothes

enacted scenes like Hollywood film stars

mounted under glass

and masterfully posed.

 

By means of delving deep into their bodies

she made communion with the world of nature.

Equating beasts to human beings, oddly,

deepened her respect

for every living creature.

 

Some time around the year of twenty-ten

her steady life was shaken to the core.

She noticed several of her specimens 

with strange deformities

she’d never seen before.


 

A toad with fleecy fur could not downplay

the horror of the hedgehog with five legs.

The one-eyed stoat was worst, until the day

she drew a hare and found

its belly filled with eggs.

 

Nature was corrupted, she’d no doubt.

She racked her knowledge seeking out a cause,

spoke to all her contacts round about

until she heard a fact

that breached all nature’s laws.

 

Elsewhere in the county, it was said,

a company was drilling through the ground

and deep-injecting water to shale beds

which flooded toxic flowback 

on everything around.

 

Now Amelia knew why she was born.

She understood her mother’s lifelong struggle

waged against the implements of war

and why that woman’s zeal

had landed her such trouble.

 

Within a palisade of wire fencing

the drilling platform basked in constant light.

Outside, a little village grew up, facing

the gateway where great trucks

gained access to the site.

 

Here for many years Amelia dwelt.

Her home was built of straw-bales and of pallets

and drifting off at night she often felt

the earth beneath her back

heaving out of balance.

 

When cash got short she’d seek a pristine corpse,

some woodland creature she could stuff and sell.

All day she helped provide non-violent force

resisting delivery trucks

that served the fracking well.

 

The word arrived one crackling autumn day

as cold protectors huddled round their fire:

drilling was suspended!  They could lay

their grievances aside,

wave farewell to the wire.

 

So now Amelia had no cause to fight.

She saw no more cadavers with mutations

and felt that she was rising to the light

until the wind returned

to jumble her emotions.

 

The wind was sighing of a distant place

where trees scream out in pain but none can hear,

where nightjars churr the murder of their race

and everything divines

the evil in the air;

 

a cataclysm descending, bearing down

upon the world’s most innocent retreats.

Amelia Hamilton grasped the hilt of doom:

this would be the place

where she’d put up a fight!

epicnarrative

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The Forests will Echo with Laughter. Part 2. ►

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Tim Ellis

Thu 14th May 2020 08:48

This is the first part of a 3-part epic poem I am posting in instalments on Facebook all this month. I’m using it as a fundraiser to raise money for Medecins Sans Frontieres, the medical charity that does so much good providing urgent medical assistance to vulnerable people all over the world. I will post parts 2&3 on WOL in due course. If anyone feels kind enough to make a donation, here is my fundraiser page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/timothy-ellis2

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