Heartwood

What have we, trees seen?

Guardians and life-givers all,

we have watched in silent protest, grief-stricken

as you have pillaged Mother Earth.

 

What have we, trees seen?

Slate, iron, stone, brick and – oh! – wood,

hewed and nailed and screwed to the ground

in a parody of permanence.

 

What have we, trees seen?

Hazel and oak and larch and ash, weep

in mute despair whilst you burn, baby, burn,

stealing the essence of life.

 

What have we, trees seen?

Your demands for more overwhelm us,

we mourn as silent sentinels, watching

death dog your footsteps.

 

What do we, trees see?

We see that you are gone.

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This week, on dVerse Poetics, Abhra has asked to write poetry on trees – not just about trees, but maybe as a tree. What do trees, think and feel, how do they talk? In my dystopian-diverted mind, I think they’re pretty hacked off with us right now, as we squander all that we have, as if we can just pop across to the next planet once we’ve finished with this one.

Today, I’ve been on quite a long road-trip from mid-Wales to the southern end of the country, and then back again. The journey encompassed villages called Bethlehem and Salem within a few miles of each other (not a joke!), and Port Talbot which is shrouded in steam and from its huge steel plant and smells very industrial (but has a strange beauty that a city-born girl like me can appreciate). I have seen much that is wonderful and worrying about our use of the land in just one day, so I imagine that trees, who can live for hundreds of years, are shaking their heads and wondering when we will learn.

I hope you enjoy my piece – please do visit dVerse to read more wonderful imaginings!

 

 

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In the Stones

Copyright - Freya

Copyright – Freya

I place my hands on the warm brick and slate, closing my eyes against the sun. It’s an unseasonably hot day in April. I’m in mid-Wales and the weather isn’t supposed to be like this. I have dressed for rain, for wind and a dank, brooding atmosphere. I had wanted and wished for omen-filled clouds.

I for one need dark, miserable days in which to channel my muse. Crime novels based in dark, satanic mills and laissez-faire Victorian Britain don’t flourish well in heat waves. All these scantily-clad tourists, the mountain bikers, the squealing children and yapping dogs – they’re all just a waste of my energy.

I force myself to channel the darkest recesses of my mind. This is definitely the place where the murder had taken place. I can feel it in my bones, despite the cheerful weather. This building has an aura; it is leaching out of the crumbling walls and releasing its long-buried story into me. I breathe in, then out; long, slow breaths. I cannot waste this opportunity, even if the weather is spoiling my plans. My affinity with buildings, my unarguable ability to read the past in our surroundings – it is my life’s passion, not to mention my ticket to paying the mortgage each month. Here lie the remains of the infamous Gravely Mill. Nobody knows of its existence – I am the first.

“Jerry! Jerry!”

God, what now? More bloody tourists. What the hell are they doing here?

They appear from behind the ruins of the waterwheel in his and hers matching sunhats and shades. The worst kind of holidaymaker – they’ll be asking me to take their photo next…

“Yes, my sweet?”

Oh God, how sickly, how inappropriate.

I hide behind a wall. Surely, they won’t be long? A couple of snaps, and then they’ll be gone. Please, let it be so.

“This is it. Look, here in the guidebook: ‘Gravely Mill Children’s Extravaganza was built by Sir Andrew Morton-Childs in 1836. He was the first – and little-known -philanthropist to believe that all children needed time in which to play and to let their imaginations run wild. He created a safe haven where children who worked in his factories could put on plays, dress up, and enjoy themselves. This is where the famous playwright Julius Ward – a former child worker at the mill – set his first crime-based play ‘The Murder of Alice Soames’. Some still believe it to be fact, but it is pure fiction, a creation of what Mr Ward himself described as an overactive childish imagination.’”

I imagine voodoo dolls of the couple, and picture myself thrusting pins viciously into their podgy bodies as they amble away.

There had been no murder. The building is full of lies.

Time to go back to the drawing board.

Ysbryd Y Mwynwyr – Five Sentence Fiction

It’s time for my latest offering to Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction, a weekly prompt where there is no word limit, just a limit on the number of sentences. Plus, although she provides a word prompt, it is just for direction only – you don’t have to include the word itself in your contribution.

This week, the prompt is  – THUNDER.

Do let me know what you think of my offering below – and whilst you’re at it, why not take a look at everyone else’s offerings (I’m sure they’ll be fabulous), and even give it a go yourself…

*****

– Ysbryd y Mwynwyr –

If you lay your hands flat against the earth, you can feel the souls of the lost and the forgotten reaching out to you for recognition.

I feel that here, even on a cheerful day in August; the scars incised on the landscape, the tumbledown mine-workings, the iron ore spilling its livid orange hue over smooth stones ensconced in the glass-clear streams – these are the obvious markers of times past.

Pause for a moment, tune your ears to the undertow that pulls your heart, your thoughts, your very breath past the calm sounds of nature; beyond the brook burbling at your feet, beyond the birds soaring in the azure above your head.

This serene valley was once filled with the roar of vast waterwheels, smoke, steam, pounding hammers and picks, chipping and hacking and the shouting of men.

The thunder of industry echoed around these mountains; the clamour of humanity, the spirit of the miners, reverberates within us now, never to be lost.

Copyright - Freya

Copyright – Freya

Lillie McFerrin Writes

*** Ysbryd Y Mwynwyr is Welsh and means Spirit of the Miners. It is a community regeneration project that set out to create an identity for northern Ceredigion using the legacy of metal mining as a theme for regeneration. The project mainly focused on the human, social and community aspects of mining culture. In short, the very reason why many of the upland villages exist. Please see the Ysbryd Y Mwnwyr website for further information, and if you ever visit Wales, I can highly recommend the area as a region to visit. It is stunning.