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The Forests will Echo with Laughter. Part 2.

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Anemones frizzled sparks beneath the trees

and bluebells rippled lakesides in the glades

the day Amelia Hamilton first breezed

into the woodland camp

sequestered in the shade.


Although no one had seen her face before

they felt she had been born to live among them.

Willing to muck-in with all the chores

the new recruit soon proved

more expert than the young men.


Chopping wood, securing knots and lashings

to build the treehouse dwellings where they slept,

anyone could overlook her passion

for stuffing voles and owls:

the oddities she kept.


Those were peaceful days before the diggers

dozed the railway’s path right to their door.

Happy days, the activists like figures

punching fruiting heads

up through the forest floor,


some quite interchangeable with trees;

their moss-brown beards near rinded through with lichen;

what clothes they wore, virescent as the leaves

and skins a guileless green

like nuts before they ripen. 


One man there was whose presence left a mark

like tannic stain, whose attitude she rated

rougher than the texture of tree bark.

John Greenwood was his name, 

as someone told her later.


Something in the bearing of this man

stirred up dim reminders of her father

present one day, then the next day gone,

his influence on her

weightless as a feather.


This John Greenwood’s calls were just as fleeting

though he was well respected, that was plain.

Sometimes he attended campfire meetings

but then for all the year

was absent once again.


The years Amelia’d grown up with her Gran

came back to her: the years she’d been abused,

whipped with belts and whacked with frying pans.

She’d bottled up a rage

not easy to defuse.


And when she turned once more to taxidermy

anomalies she found gave grounds for panic:

a duck that had evolved an epidermis 

thick enough to thwart

a spray of shotgun pellets;


a hedgehog that wore, underneath its spines

a carapace exactly like a tortoise

enough to rend a truck wheel’s crush benign;

a fish with aerial lungs

to breathe above the water.


These signs she read as rapid evolution,

a desperate amendment by the planet;

nature bashing out a botched solution 

to all the novel pains

us men have heaped upon it.


And now her rage bore down on this new cause.

When ‘dozers came on site she climbed on top

and surfed the beasts till they were forced to pause

and Health and Safety rules

required all work to stop.


When men with chainsaws came to cut the trees

they’d find Amelia handcuffed to a trunk 

her bound, defenceless body like a tease

daring them to drive

ahead with their attack.


This garnered her respect around the camp

and several times she featured on The News.

Now in the media spotlight she was swamped

with lucrative requests

for quotes and interviews.


Restful days - her “day-off” days - she’d mull

upon the trials that prompted her to this.

What made her not like every other girl

but wedded to this life

of argument and risk?


So when she had the time she took to roaming

down the secret pathways through the woods,

and kept her intellect awake by naming

animals and flowers,

as many as she could.


That rusty, blue-winged crow - a Jay;

the Robin, dumpy, orange chested;

the ramshackles of sticks called dreys

above her in the boughs

where agile squirrels nested.


Silvery flowers in dazzling constellations 

flecking the ground were wood anemones.

Bluebells too engaged her fascination 

plashing turquoise lakes

beneath the ancient trees.


Butterflies galore: the speckled wood

feeding on the copious blackberry flowers;

and ruler of them all, suffused in woad,

the Purple Emperor

amid its lofty bowers.


Here, one bright unblemished April day

Amelia’s way of life forever changed.

What came that morning never went away:

thereafter, her entire

reality rearranged.


◄ The Forests will Echo with Laughter. Part 1.

The Forests will Echo with Laughter. Part 3. ►


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Tim Ellis

Sun 24th May 2020 10:19

If you haven’t read part one of this epic poem yet, you’ll find it as my previous blog entry. I’m posting episodes daily on Facebook and using it to raise funds for Medicins Sans Frontieres. If you’d like to help out, go to Thank you.

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