Misfits



International Day of Forests? Get me out of here

A response to Lucy Mangan's  World Poetry Day? Get me out of here

   
I am writing to you from an undisclosed location. I can tell you that it’s not a cabin in the woods, but anything more than that and I’d have to kill you. I’m in hiding because it’s International Forest Day (Thursday 21 March) and if there’s one thing I hate, fear and despise, it’s forests.
        
Partly, of course, it’s because of the terrible associations left by Learning About Trees at school. Lessons stretching out until the crack of doom with a teacher trying to interest 30 teenagers in Dendrochronology– she’d have had better luck trying to convince them to immediately cut their own throats. The memory of crucifying, calcifying boredom remains long after learning about new growth in the vascular cambium.

Partly it’s because – like all but the best and bravest among us – I hate anything that I know I cannot and will never be able to understand. Logically speaking, I should therefore detest almost everything, from flowers to sunshine. But I don’t, because somewhere deep inside I feel that given enough time – like, an entire other life – and motivation, I could eventually learn the basics of enjoying beauty.

Nature, like music, seems to me a different order of being – a kind of miracle. So few words, so many images. So little supression, so much colour and wildness that you feel your head and heart must surely burst.
       
       
                 "I run from nature or anyone who is about to induce nature in me"

And that, there, is the main reason I hate nature. All that nature. All that nature truly, properly looked at, faced, turned round, held up to the light, examined in all its microscopic, exquisite, agonising detail, owned, digested… all those trees made by nature and then growing slowly, painfully into a witchy hand of twigs, the growth rings that will convey it’s age to any onlooker, who will then embark on counting every single ring. Madness. Who wants to put themselves through that? 

The answer to that, I am aware, is, ‘Anyone whose family motto isn’t Dead Inside’. As ever, identifying the things you misunderstand proves an infallible method of identifying the things you fear and an equally infallible method of identifying your perceived weaknesses. 

I hate nature. I run from nature. I run from anyone who is about to induce nature in me or who appears to be having some of their own that needs dealing with. I prefer my dealings with the outdoors to be brisk, clean, efficient and very soon over. I like a life that moves along at a steady, even, uninspiring pace and if that means sacrificing heartfelt joy, I will do that gladly in return for never feeling anything ever.

The older I get, however, the less tenable this approach is. Because as you get older, your saplings and those of your friends become larger, more unmanageable, less avoidable. Or as H G Wells put it, you realise that:

"Life is real again, and the mischievous have to die. They ought to die. They ought to be willing to die. It's a sort of disloyalty, after all, to live and taint the race." 

And if you haven’t trained in arboreal locomotion or learned gradually over the years how to put your arms around a tree and generally develop a personal arsenal of skills and strategies to help you cope with the increasing vagaries and complexities of the forest, pretty soon you are going to find yourself careering dizzyingly down a ditch and into a patch of inconsiderate stinging nettles. You become of virtually no use to yourself or to others.

God, you see where even thinking about trees gets you? Down in the deepest parts of the psychological forest, rooting through all kinds of rotten matter best left undisturbed.

I’m off to read Stylist.

But if you must have some trees, I’ll leave you with the one tree I know about and which is unlikely to induce any kind of breakdown.

‘In forest ecology, a snag refers to a standing, dead or dying tree, often missing a top or most of the smaller branches. In freshwater ecology it refers to trees, branches, and other pieces of naturally occurring wood found sunken in rivers and streams; it is also known as coarse woody debris’.

Happy International Forest Day everyone.


Email Emma at eehammond76@gmail.com or tweet her @EHwords

What are your thoughts on forests? Let us know in the comments below


1 x Sip From The Golden Chalice








 

                 


the 23,786th day

sorley pinkles is about 7. he has red hair and sits cross- legged on a milk crate reading the FT which is upside down. all of a sudden there is a puff of smoke and a loud CRACK. pegleg who’s dead, stands there like a wet suit on a coathanger.

pegleg loonbucket -

i have gone to my place of eternal rest- crossed over and lie
flipping outside the bowl. can you see me twitching sorley? i can’t.

sorley pinkles-

Yep. you’ve had it. i asked ma all about it. she says you’re up in the sky or something. i knew you were underground.

pegleg loonbucket -

in jesus? i can’t feel that though, and i’ve tried it. i think he must have been here- for it’s light enough.

sorley pinkles-

it’s probably not worth guessing at. poor old jesus in his scratchy dress. i saw a sausage dog today.

pegleg loonbucket -

sausage dogs… i would say NOT! real isn’t even real. there’s a few shapes, but they’re all wrong. i’m yesterday’s papers- up the spout.

sorley appears to have lost interest in the conversation and takes a paper bag from his pocket. it is full of red gobstoppers. he holds one up to the light.

pegleg takes 2 speech cards from his pocket.

pegleg loonbucket-

and this is what i was taught to expect-

death as a journey [he skims it one way]

death as the end [he skims it the other]

HA! [he shouts, alarming himself]

death’s just death. i can’t see a way out…

sorley pinkles- [putting the gobstopper in his gob]-

you’re done for. when mac badgley died we put him in an ice cream tub and tied a ribbon round. da put him in the car and took him to the tip.

pegleg loonbucket -

…and my fingers are not there. fibre optics cease to amaze. i am without genitals. i feel constantly, nothing. i am non…un! non and un!

sorley pinkles-

being dead doesn’t bother me.

pegleg loonbucket -

but where does it leave me? i always thought i’d be further along than this- a ladybird perhaps.
sorley pinkles-

a ladybird?

pegleg loonbucket -

or a yew tree. waving outward into the fishy winds of a harbour. grieving in a way.

sorley pinkles-

perhaps you are a tree. when i die i will be a king. with an army.

pegleg loonbucket -

what will you do, sorley?

sorley pinkles-

i’ll be a fireman. i’ve seen the way the girls go into flames when the big red truck goes by. i’ll save people. then i’ll go fishing.

pegleg sits down on the floor very suddenly. he looks more tired than ever.

pegleg loonbucket -

i wasted my life away. god of what? me- yet i never existed.

as pegleg is talking we see something hot red creeping slowly out of the darkness, spiderlike.

sorley pinkles-

who’s this now? another one of yours.

pegleg loonbucket -

i’ve not seen this one before.

[my red hot car by squarepusher comes on]

the red thing starts to dance, and lip-syncs to the words-

you scream out for more
let me tell you girl that for sure
i’m gonna give you all i’ve got
i’m going to fuck you with my red hot cock

pegleg jumps up and starts to dance against his will. there is a routine- to be choreographed lasting around 2 minutes. sorley (and surely, the audience) watches in disbelief.

[as the music fades]

pegleg loonbucket-

whats this? who could you be? dark spirit! sorley, help me!

sorley pinkles-

i cannot- ‘tis your time. augustus caravel speaks.

augustus caravel-

mr.loonbucket. & for what would you become the best of all living things? a yew, a sunset that opens onto a night-sparkly field? where was your poetry? your reachings? how dark it was. you missed tide upon tide. & i saw it.

pegleg loonbucket-

my workings never allowed for it. my father was a poor man who lent me his temper and not much else. though he taught me some knots once.

sorley pinkles-

i can do a slip knot. once i caught a wild brown trout.

augustus caravel-

three worlds, pegleg. yon gastric mill- a place for lost teaspoons. ok? there you would be mote. a clipping or nut. dreadful in your smallness. a pen-lid in a child’s throat. how’s that?

pegleg loonbucket-

my life was not so lost.

augustus caravel-

you think you are the one to choose?

pegleg loonbucket-

i think i never hurt no one.

sorley pinkles-

it’s true. he never hit a girl.

pegleg loonbucket-

and only thrice a gentleman.

augustus caravel-

yet still you saw your life as burden.

pegleg loonbucket-

i never knew it. i tried to try out jesus once…

augustus caravel-

JESUS! you dead keep on. it’s a fucking joke.

sorley pinkles-[testing out the word]

fuck-ing

augustus caravel-

the mother gives you equilibrioception and you come back with jesus. have you seen him lately?

pegleg loonbucket-

i thought perhaps he lived nearby.

augustus caravel-

have you seen him?

pegleg loonbucket-

i have not.

augustus caravel-

behold our master sorley. i bet thee know a trick or two?

sorley pinkles-

i can do presto chango

[he mimes- badly, pouring water into glasses and pulls faces of varying amazement as the clear water changes to coloured]

RED!

BLUE!

YELLOW!

behold! BLACK!…

augustus caravel-

incredible!



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