In the Forest by Thomas Shapcott

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Wait for the axe sound in the forest.

The birds wait. The lizards pause.

and wait. The creatures that are nearest

earth feel the approaching pace

 

measure a man. And they must wait.

Then has the time come? The dark

of forest is so solid that

its inter-growth should never break.

 

But has the time come? The birds

are nervous, see them flinch and turn.

The snake moves into the reeds

quickly. Danger, the signs warn.

 

That! Slap of an axe. Slap!

There, quick, over there. The tree

is tensed. In its green height

the possums clutch their young; they flee.

 

Crack again crack of slow man’s weapon,

intolerable wait for the one tree’s sake

for its grasping fall and its death to happen

and the gash in the forest, and light to break.

 

Now, says the axe, and the tree is fallen,

the spider crushed in its secret nest.

The late slow lives have been taken,

in the sheltering tree they have been crushed.

 

The accepted world is quickly broken,

the skull of the forest is opened up.

Now, means the axe. But the birds have forgotten—

there are other trees; they prepare for sleep.

 

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