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deer illustration
Illustration credit: Tiffany Francis-Baker

III

‘What happened here,’ the holly cried,
‘to cause this decimation?
Who gave the order for such blind and
brutal violation?’
‘The apes - the strange and dangerous apes,
they are the ones to blame,’
sighed beech, ‘but I remember when
our needs were just the same -
to feel fresh water in our veins
and sunlight on our crowns,
to swell our lungs with sky and dip
our roots into the ground.’
‘Back then,’ recalled the old oak tree,
‘their seasons were like ours.
The winter was for sleep and sharing
tales beneath the stars,
and when spring woke the warming soil
and burst the speckled seeds,
the apes would dance and sing beneath
the green and tender trees.
For years our fruit and firewood
nurtured their wild bones,
and they took only that which would
sustain their simple homes.
For years we grew united with
our close, contented kin -
and then the darkness came, and let
the silent sickness in.
At first their eyes were drawn to gold
and silver in the earth,
mined and melted, ripped apart
to see what it was worth.
Then they shaped their plunder into
empty, shining discs,
and quantified the natural world,
clasped tight within their fists.
And day by day, the apes became
consumed by their obsession,
carving up the wilderness,
fixated on possession.
They soon forgot the value of
the blackbird’s starlit hymn,
the velvet tail of newborn hare,
the fox den, dark and dim,
the dappled shards of sunlight on
the murmuring lagoon,
the snow goose turned to shadow as
it drifts across the moon.
As slowly spread the poison, all
the apes became bewitched,
and tore apart the world that had
allowed them to exist.
The sickness swamped their hearts and
rotted out their living core,
for every piece of gold they forged,
they wanted fifty more;
more than they could ever spend or
eat or drink or breathe,
yet still they sold their only home,
enslaved by endless greed.
And now the world is dying but
all they can do is stare -
for in their quest to gain the world,
they lost the will to care.
And now the bells are ringing but
they still refuse to listen -
Will we go down to ruin when
the apes face their extinction?’

Read more

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