Image by Ajit Singh

ROOTS

the madrigal, volume ii

Bystander

by d.w. evans

Let’s be clear about this, old trees,

the ancient ones that appear in studied greyness,

seem more like elephants than oaks.

 

They must know fear:

the axe and servant teeth of man,

the lightening of the storm

the tearing wind that seeks the vulnerable.

 

They must know

and form in all that fluid memory

the transient things that touched them once?

Crossings beneath an early arm -

what limbs got chopped,

friends cleared, gathered, burned?

 

Remember the flank of a horse brushing lower bark?

A man aloft dancing short jigs,

kicking air like a Cossack?

 

So many dances rubbed bark raw.

Left there and the birds made merry,

flies did too, bit by bit lifting the load,

nourishing the soil.

 

The clank of iron coats was when?

After? Or before rustling ribbons,

floury wigs? Men start and stop:

sheltering a king is a puny feat.

 

Vital is the feeling of owlets huddling,

vying for beak,

quarrelling over mice in the depths of a chest so deep

it’s basked a thousand summers,

etched a million days into fibre,

keeping a secret diary that runs rings around time.

DW Evans was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, and now lives in Jersey. He won the Alan Jones Memorial Prize in 2019 and 2020, and was shortlisted twice for Ó Bhéal’s Five Words International Poetry Competition (2020 and 2021), and received highly commended in Acumen’s first international competition (2020). His poems have also appeared in the Frogmore Papers, Bindweed, Proverse Mingled Voices, the Best New British & Irish Poets 2019 -2021 (Black Spring Press), Lucent Dreaming, A3 Review and later this year Driech’s ‘Pop’ anthology.