Wes Viola | Wood Have

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I want to get lost in poetry with you.
Stack the lines in front of each other,
the letters like trees,
stark against the snow-white landscape,
and we’ll step between them, hand in hand.

You’ll tell me things about the trees.
I never was any good at that stuff.
What does a beech leaf look like? No idea.
I might do better here, though.
I know ‘L’s used to be ‘Lambda’s, for instance.
That swoop and hook was meant to stand
for a cattle prod, way back
and ‘A’ for an ox (so they say) –
so you’d have goaded your herd of ‘A’s with an ‘L’,
la, la, la,
singing your merry herder’s song,
la, la, la.

Out in Wood Have,
the roots grow into each other
and anything that starts to look like a path soon ends.
It seems hardly any lovers have been out this way before.
But then, we’ll get to one great ‘T’ with a ‘W’ carved in its trunk.
We’ll argue gently over which William must have got his penknife out.
You’ll think Blake and I’ll think Yeats
(Or the other way around).
We’ll both think your Mom would have said Shakespeare.
Wordsworth wouldn’t have done that to a tree, of course.
Also I think he always went the other way.

So, we won’t be deep enough yet. We’ll want to go
where no-one’s been before. We’ll both start
to say it: ‘we don’t want to forget the way back’,
and both stop the words in our mouths,
since we both do.

A few lines further and the letters thicken,
some breaking up, some growing together,
while thin ‘I’s and ‘V’s will creep everywhere, wrapping their tendrils
round everything they can.
Here and there the trees have fallen over, and this is what we’ll do:
We’ll clamber over the straight edge of an ‘R’ long since collapsed,
I’ll follow your heels through a lower case ‘o’,
and after that,

there’ll be nothing I can write yet.
The letters creaking.
The sights, sounds and smells of the forest.
We’ll have done it.
Let’s go.

Wes Viola is a pen name of Wes White, an Elder Bard of Glastonbury, England now living and working in London. ‘Wood Have’ is for his wife, and for all his readers. Find more: http://linktr.ee/wesviola

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