The Forests will Echo with Laughter. Part 1.
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
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!