Above the Forests

Across the valley, in the forest,
is a felled square, striped
with new planting. In squads, platoons,
battalions, the trees march
to their abrupt death. Soon
cleared sloped bristle
with the new young levy.

If you knew what was there,
or the day’s chance went your way,
deep in the grown forest
you might find the memorial,
waymark, prayer-stone (who knows which) –
an ancient stillness, greyness,
enigma, always a survivor, always
on its way back into hiding.

Or you might
just miss a cut from rusty chunks
of corrugated roof, propped on dark roots
upheaved by a windblow, and have enough
scraps of rumour to recognise
what’s left of a dead farm.

Climbing to a track above the forests,
you can see the far, bare,
untouched hills at the valley’s head.
If sun is shining, it will seem
they could never be dark; it will seem
your youth is there, and your future,
saved. You’ll remember that,
when the rain sweeps over,
or when the north-east blows;
when you touch conglomerate rock
glaciers bore down; when for a moment
you can feel the nothingness
of a million years; when all that seems real
feels like a beginning.

from Above the Forests (Cinnamon Press, 2012) © Ruth Bidgood 2012, used by permission of the author. Recording from Ruth Bidgood (2012) recorded by Simon Fraser, produced by Sam Cambria.

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