(From a Vision in a Dream)
And for thirst, in a benighted land,
Long between fields and pastures I walked,
Dry as dust and cracked to pavements,
Beneath a parched unfeeling spring.
Arraigned in green the woods and hedgerows,
Stretched beseeching, uncomprehending boughs
To unyielding clouds indifferent to root and seed,
And brooks ran lower than in the August Dog Days.
At length I saw a tumbled homestead,
Gap tiled, with a drunken stack, smoking consumptively,
Lounging, dry stoned, in a hollow,
And thirst hauled my weary feet to its step.
A weather-fouled door swung to my knock,
And within, a knifing face snatched at my gaze,
As a withered thing with a witches air,
Bade me welcome to her nest.
She crooned, “Come to the well! Come to the well!
The waters run sweet and clear and quick!
Come to the well, and I’ll refresh
Everything you’re heart may seek!”
I would have turned and walked away,
And chanced my tongue back on the road,
But dryness to the bone won through,
And I followed where she went.
And beckoning, with spider gait,
She scuffed hard boots away before me,
Off around the side of her hovel,
To the gardens away behind.
I passed a lean-too built from bracken,
And saw her vanish through a gate,
I walked reluctant shoes along her path,
And paused a breath to think.
The sagging roof built of boughs as dry as a besom broom,
Fell across the wide enclosure,
And moved as if stirred by a breeze,
When no kiss of air moved even a blade of grass.
And as reflectively I stood
A sigh came from that nest of spiders and beetles,
A rustling as of weary limbs, And looking up,
I saw the Lord of the Forests chained.
Crucified within the roof-beams,
Long arms with branching fingers lashed with rope to the structure,
Sagged a God with broken eyes,
Vainly supporting the drunken roof.
His crown of leaves was dry and withered,
His face, as sunken as a dying Christ,
Reduced from Monarchy or branch and root,
He crippled, lost, held up a witches roof.
He stirred, and the roof heaved,
The burden too much for his lost strength,
And raising a hopeless face too me,
He silently pleaded for aid.
The world around lay slaved to his peril,
In horror I saw the picture clear,
And stirred, in my own wandering,
To bring him a cool drink.
This I did, though little could I offer,
Knowing more must repeat my action,
And his captor laughed at my assistance,
And said “Brave kittling, too little, too late.”
She waved me off,
And through the fields I went on my way,
Resolved to find him others to bring him water,
But few I saw at her gate.
(Glenn James, from a vision in a dream 2012.)
© By Glenn James 2012