The Forests will Echo with Laughter. Part 3.
The sun was filtering through a gauze of green
and ripples of lustre rolled pearl-like over moss
as if her path lay deep beneath the sea.
The branches overhead
seemed polished with a gloss
that flung each iridescent spark of light
ricocheting sideways, bud to bud,
before they sprinkled, sharp and diamond white,
to soak into the vibrant
forest’s spongy bed.
And oceans she could see, great lakes of blue
lapping at the bases of the trees:
the bluebell flowers of April in full bloom
crested with white horses
of wood anemones.
Perhaps because the shadows traced thin threads
that writhed as though the woodlands were bewitched,
a weird sensation stole into her head
the chill, uneasy sense
that she was being watched.
Step by step the creepy feeling grew
and pausing by a shiny shrub of holly,
she thought she saw a figure, stealing through
the trunks some way away,
So there was trepidation in the stride
that accessed the arena of a clearing.
A twisted, apprehensive knot inside
endeavoured to distort
the fabric of her being.
But instantly Amelia recognised
the person waiting calmly in the glade.
It was John Greenwood’s bearded face that eyed
the timid half a score
of footfalls she made.
And all she knew whilst folded in his arms
was that this was the way it had to be.
And all she felt was ecstasy, then calm,
and John Greenwood was gone,
elusive as the breeze.
Upon the only shelf within her treehouse
Amelia kept the jewel of her pursuit:
a small black-suited, bowler-hatted woodmouse
atoned its lack of taste
by dint of looking cute.
That afternoon she stared into its eyes
enquiringly, but answer there came none.
Then pleadingly she begged it to advise.
“Amelia!” said the woodmouse,
“Amelia, what you done?”
What she’d done, in later months came clear.
Her cheeks acquired a rosy, wholesome glow
and as the blackberries plumped and summer veered
to autumn, there were none
in camp who didn’t know.
Her belly showed the tell-tale augmentation
and some discerned her diet almost double
as if she ate for two. At demonstrations
by tacit sleight-of-hand
they kept her out of trouble.
When winter fell the wind howled sharp and bitter.
Amelia, swaddled up in layers of blankets
acquired a talent as a jumper knitter,
and helped to peel the veg
for what they termed their “banquets”.
It was a frightful New Year’s Eve when she
first felt the cruel contractions grip her sides.
Her sisters clustered round her, chanting “Breathe!”
The men observed the wind
and black cloud in the skies.
All night a fierce Atlantic tempest raged
as poor Amelia agonised in labour.
The valiant treehouse bucked and lurched and swayed
but somehow stayed aloft
to shame its feebler neighbours.
No doctor, midwife, soap, nor anaesthetic.
In torment none would think she could survive
Amelia battled with an energetic
doggedness till she heard
the baby was alive.
And beating back oblivion, before she drifted
to the solace of unconsciousness
they passed the baby to her and she lifted
the tiny man aloft
then hugged him to her chest.
Once she sensed the last gasp of the storm,
Amelia swooned. They left her treetop bed
and none were ever certain if she saw
the angry antler buds
atop the baby’s head.