Day 9: winter woodland

now is the time to explore you
in misty light so low
you become one inky shadow

birch, ash, beech and oak let go
of leafy glamour long ago
abandoning piles of copper and gold

now your copses are barefaced and bold
your glimmering gnarly branches hold
mulchy aromas of moss and fungus

I long to see you bathing languorous
in myrrhy moon and silver scent of stars

come and explore me
in this misty light so low
be embraced by my inky shadow

my trees have all let go
their leafy glamour long ago
abandoned it in piles of copper and gold

my copses are barefaced and bold
my glimmering gnarly branches hold
clouds of moss and fungus

come, see me bathe languorous
in myrrh of moon and silver-scented stars



A little wintry magic from Kim Russell. Kim M. Russell has been writing poetry and short stories since she was a schoolgirl but only began submitting to competitions and anthologies when she retired from teaching in 2014. Her poems have been published on-line by Visual Verse and The Ekphrastic Review, among others, and in print by: Afflatus Magazine, River Writes (Bure Navigation Conservation Trust), Anthology of Aunts and Second Place Rosette (Emma Press), Chiaroscuro – Darkness and Light (dVerse Anthology 2017), Peeking Cat Anthologies 2017 and 2018, and Field Work (UEA Publishing Project with Kunsthalle Cromer). She lives in the UK, in East Anglia between the North Sea coast and the Norfolk Broads, with her husband and two cats.

Kim has written two books, a flash fiction collection: Between Heartbeats and a children’s book: Joe and Nelly. They’d both make ideal stocking fillers…

Going into the sacred grove in summer

I look up for the light.
We’re all craning for the light,
me and the trees –
the skinny saplings,
younger than my boots;
the big old beech,
that’s older than my soul –
we reach up
in this hushed place,
even the nettles.
We are hushed.

I’m experimenting with titles. I’ve always been a bit shy about my titling (don’t want to promise more than I can deliver!) but now I’m trying to be playful with them, to see them as part of the poem, or as a piece in their own right. Anyhow, that’s why the title is almost as long as the poem here.

This is for Brendan at earthweal,who asks us to write about sacred landscapes. I’m sure I’ve mentioned our sacred groves before. Beara means “sacred grove”, apparently. The farm up the lane is called Beara, and there are certainly a few odd shaped bits of woodland that have never been incorporated into fields…interesting…probably not sacred any more, but good for wildlife. We have one in the top corner of our property, grown up around a spring…oh yes. I live with nymphs.

Prosery – the dryad

A leaf-green gown, a magpie feather cloak, a pair of birch bark shoes – these memories were left here with the trees when I entered the human world, my heart snagged by a huntsman with cunning fingers and sky-blue eyes. His kiss meant more to me than a leaf-green gown, his dark hair was softer than a magpie feather cloak. I gave him three whispering children – two green-eyed boys, a blue-eyed girl. I watched him age while I did not.

I’m returning to the forest now, to mourn him, slipping back into my woodland clothes, as if I never was away.

My kind forget carelessly, though. I’ll wander here until my heart is snagged once more, by a pair of brown eyes, a smile like sunlight. I’ll leave my secrets lightly then, go visiting the human world.

It’s Prosery night at dVerse. Flash fiction inspired by a quotation, a story in 144 words. Tonight our host is Merril, and she gives us a line from Jo Harjo, the new US Poet Laureate. She’s chosen this line:
“These memories were left here with the trees”
from the poem “How to Write a Poem in a Time of War.”  You can read the entire poem here.

Forest bathing haibun for dVerse

I know this trail so well. It leads from the road into the woods. I’ve been here in every season, and every kind of weather. I’ve walked here in the moonlight, in the sunlight, and in the rain. I’ve paced here, cycled here, strolled here, and today I’m running – for my body and my soul. If you follow me, you’ll pass the bank where the old man’s beard runs wild. It won’t last much longer, now spring is on its way. A little further on a brook runs by the side of the path, clear water, where cresses will grow in a few weeks’ time. We cross the river, and pause to look for the heron, who stands one-legged in the water that crashes over the weir. Beyond the bridge the banks are high around us, it’s darker, and rhododendrons grow leggy in the shade, but then we cross the meandering river again and find ourselves high among the branches of the woodland. We look down, down, down to the forest floor, where soon there will be bluebells, and ransoms, and wild garlic, yellow celandine and dog violets. There will be sweet flower scents, and the green scent of trees, and the savoury smell of the ransoms. The river is quiet here, but there are birds singing, and the sudden rat-tat-tat of a woodpecker calls us to stop for a moment. There is the whisper of green in the tips of twigs, and the blackthorn is blossoming already. Spring is coming, drawing green spikes up from the dull earth, setting green finches dancing through the air, and filling my lungs with clear light.

Drum roll in the woods
Fanfare of green, white and gold
Spring songs in the woods

Toni at dVerse invites us to bathe in a forest, sink into nature, and let ourselves go. Check out the poets’ pub – it’s friendly, and there’s some great poetry there.