There was another prompt night last week, with the theme of Summer. My prompt was a quote from Roman Payne’s Rooftop Soliloquy:
“Life, now, was unfolding before me, constantly and visibly, like the flowers of summer that drop fanlike petals on eternal soil.”
I decided to do a poem. As per my last few attempts at poetry, it got dark. In a similar vein to last November’s Winter Keen, it’s a cautionary tale from a fantasy world where people really don’t like their kids. I may do ones for Spring and Autumn at some point, if I can think of another way of terrorising children.
Down forgotten paths of the deepest wood,
Lies a garden watered in crimson blood
Of slaughtered spring lamb, or sometimes a child,
Offered, by shepherds, to gods of the wild.
Forever renewed, this eternal earth,
Unfolds constant life, compelling the birth
Of saplings of flesh, skin leaves, heartwood bones;
Their pulsing red sap drawn straight from the loam.
The trees’ blossom eyes grow wider with fear,
When the garden’s guardian draws too near.
Imprisoned in bark, they dream of old life,
Their sap has memory, dread of his knife.
The wild gods’ gardener tends to these trees,
Lovingly watching for signs of disease.
His eyes are precise, judgement not fickle,
His old hands are as one with the sickle.
No foulness will he allow in his glade,
If a tree sickens, he sharpens his blade.
Spring damp, autumn rot or cold winter’s bite,
He trims off deadheads afflicted with blight.
Wood screams for mercy, but none is allowed.
Blood-spattered, the garden-butcher is proud
Of his service in his sacred mission;
He never thinks to seek recognition.
His endless labour is frequently hard
But he’s happy; work is its own reward.
From the deadheads, he extracts new seed-teeth
And plants them anew, to grow from beneath.
You seek an excuse, my young shepherd son,
For sleeping on watch; well, you will find none.
Guard the flock to evade gods of the wild;
If wolves take our lambs, we have but one child.
The header image is of branches cut from a bloodwood tree, which is exactly as gruesome as it sounds.