The Nightmare

I have a burnt taste in my mouth from a
Foul dream of fire - mattresses, slates,
Wood, you made a pyre of our world
And in my brother's woods you burnt the lot,
Setting flames, spreading pain, till all the
Trees were gone and only black smoking
Stumps remained, supple barks crumbling
Charcoal in my hand, cinder-raking ground - 
The land was dead, unfit for use.

I, mouth held, was underwater till the fireball
Passed, not breathing, not hearing, not seeing,
Body living in the liquid, safe in the water's
Arms while flames raged overhead choking
All our air.  When I came up, nothing was 
There, nothing left, except that I had 
Canyons to cross - black ones bare and wide 
The flames had stripped clean of all life. 

Many tried suicide: their dream-world gone,
Their living realm of green and summer-sun
Burned, there was no living-on in that black
Dawn, no reason to walk beneath the rain
Through wet ash-heaps and charcoal pieces - 
Scrape the insides clean and start again.
Collected Works
Return to Collections all
next poem