As the skies darkened with smokestacks
I set to cutting down the trees.
The rooks croaked with every thud
and splintering shunt
of the axe against the centuries of oak.
My father was down by the delta
He came back, cleaved his way
through the reeds to the clearing
with a goats-hair sack squirming
with those slick oil-black devils.
He leaned on his blackthorn stick
stared a while,
cursed then left.
I said nothing to him,
fumbling in mock concentration.
Higher up the hills I climbed
to where the dark pines grew.
And I cut these too
striking a fishbone of slices on the bark,
collecting the streams of pine resin
in an old tin helmet.
Day after day I returned
til I had a mound of fallen pine sprinkled with earth
and I waited for the mists to reach the forest
and burnt them to charcoal one sullen night.
Then I boiled the pine resin over a fire
and the air filled with sweet woodsmoke
and I added the charcoal til it turned to pitch.
I gathered the oakwood,
set my tattered blueprints on the forest floor
and began to build.
It rained the whole way home
following the pylons march
like tilting windmills
long across the fields.
A stray dog crossed my path
and followed by my side right to the door,
shuddering off the rain.
I took what I could carry,
silently filled my case
with an oil skin coat, boots, a compass
and inched the door shut.
It was raining still when I left.
By Darran AndersonQLRS Vol. 5 No. 1 Oct 2005