The first draft poem for Matthew Sweeney's Guardian Unlimited workshop:
Imagine a forest
Small and modest
Where trees blow
And winds grow
And each rustle
Or hedgerow’s bustle
Is not deer so sleek
But a mythical beast.
A twig’s snap and break
Is the chimera’s wake,
The sudden birdcall above
A gremlin or lycanthrope,
Some echoed distant shriek
A wailing mandrake,
And the breeze through your hair
Shows a unicorn’s there.
What to do with this place
That you’ve stumbled across?
Two options: stay, or run off,
But beware that you’re already
So far in that your hopes of leaving
This miniature yet devilishly
Twisting maze of wood
are quickly wearing thin.
It’s growing dark. You’ve had enough?
Well be my guest to fish yourself out.
If you’re down on your luck
I suggest listening out
For the groan of a wood maiden
In an oak’s moan and flexing.
They’re at one with the forest,
You see, so be at one with their feelings.
Look. The moon’s wide eye is settling.
Its cold and wet and beautiful, but you’re
More worried about what’s out there,
Well if you hear the grunt of beasts,
As if mixed with men grumbling or speaking,
And if you hear it while asleep, it’s centaurs. They creep
In this forest, so small and deep. There. Just waiting.