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Thetford Forest

by Julia Webb

Frozen mud-pelt of the early morning.
The air bristles with frost-shine, 

our winter breath hangs
whitening momentarily in the air before us.

And on into deep grey dark,
where the trees close in on us.

A gentle crackle in the glooming,
rolling pine cones and rabbit droppings,

faraway bird-call and the startle-flap
of a fresh waked pigeon.

Deer-eye startles, twigs fire rounds
of snapper-jawed ammunition,

spiky fingers gnarl,
chipper of wood-peel, crack and splinter.

Finally we are out amongst
left over leaf-mould

into the stark-limbed skeleton
of the deciduous forest.

The sky opens out - a gap of relief
after the ink-smudge conifers.

We gulp lung after lung of early winter,
see every third tree marked with a cross,

a yellow smear
where the saw will bite,   

flaking jackets of bark barely
covering pale bodies,   

blood-sap stinks up the air
with its honey-thick sweetness.

Norfolk Poems




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