II - The Tangled Web, Tiffany Francis-Baker

badger illustration
Illustration credit: Tiffany Francis-Baker

The Tangled Web by Tiffany Francis-Baker, a poem for our centenary project writers in the forest.


Silence now; the wild wood stands in
silence, barely breathing,
the air is heavy, drowning all
beneath a carbon ceiling.
Stunted leaf, dried insect corpse,
the swallow not returning;
Silence. Now the earth seems dead -
And yet, there’s something stirring.
Just beneath the wilting wood,
below the lost debris
that sinks, infused into the earth,
the rivers and the sea;
Deep down we go, and deeper, where
the soil is unpolluted,
for here the world is dark and soft,
and here the trees are rooted.
Winding tendrils pull the forest
down below the surface,
sap-gorged serpents crawl to Hell,
towards a godless furnace.
They know their trees are fading for
they hear the death knell ring,
so with one final swell of life
the roots begin to sing.
An unknown language, translated
through sap and stem and spore,
across the field, beyond the vale
and down towards the shore.
It creeps and murmurs, calling out
to all the plants on land,
until, at last, it comes to where
the ocean laps the sand.
And here the song is passed along
to kelp and bladderwrack,
and when the tide retreats, the seagrass
takes the message back
through plastic shoals and oil floats,
and broken blue whale bones
that drift upon the salted waves,
cradled in grey sea foam;
Through wide and wondrous oceans sail
the forest’s final words,
to distant lands where once the trees
were rich with bees and birds;
to burning wrecks of rainforest,
where rivers drained to dust,
and tangerine orangutans
collapsed and turned to rust;
to mountain woods where snow leopards
once prowled along the peaks,
before the tundra melted
in the strange midwinter heat;
to succulents in desert sands
where rattlesnakes reclined
in flaming sun, before the climate
massacred their kind;
to every vine and thorn and root
the message is imparted,
and soon it travels home again
to where the journey started;
Now all the forests whisper with
the same strange tragedy -
a tale of loss, a tale of greed,
a tale of apathy.

Read more

deer illustration
The Tangled Web - part III
pine marten illustration
The Tangled Web - part IV
Snake illustration
The Tangled Web - part V
Birds by Tiffany Francis-Baker
The Tangled Web - part VI