David Lewis Paget
Wood Men - Poem by David Lewis Paget
We dropped down into the forest on
A Friday afternoon,
Myself and a team of Dendronauts
Left peering through the gloom,
Our Dirigible had failed, and crashed
Right through the canopies,
We found ourselves on the forest floor,
Staring up at the trees.
There wasn't a lot of growth down there
Just dead and dying waste,
The canopy so thick, the sunlight
‘Now what do we do? ' howled Carol Timms,
‘We're eighty miles from base…'
The hole we'd punched in the canopy
Had closed, left barely a trace.
‘They'll send a party out to search, '
Said Doctor Avignon,
But nobody spoke, we feared the worst,
We knew that he was wrong.
‘Can somebody climb the highest tree? '
Said the pilot, Andrew Young,
The trees were a hundred and fifty feet
Where the canopy overhung.
‘We'll have to walk, ' said Gordon Tombs,
‘We'll have to leave the ship,
We might just come on a clearing where
The trees are spread a bit,
They often fall in the monsoon rains
When the ground is waterlogged,
The roots are shallow and rip right out
Where the ground becomes a bog.'
He shouldn't have mentioned that fateful word
For the rain came teeming down,
Down in streams from the canopy
So we thought that we might be drowned,
Then with the rain there came the heat,
So humid, Carol cursed,
‘We're going to sweat or drown down here,
I don't know which is worse.'
So Tombs led off with a compass that
He had, with keys on his ring,
‘If we head due east we might get out,
We have to try something! '
In minutes we were soaked, and steam
Was rising from our clothes,
The mud was forming underfoot
And the smell was on the nose.
We sludged our way for an hour or two
‘Til Carol Timms had cried,
‘I can't go on, I'm not so strong,
My legs feel like they've died! '
Then up ahead there were cobwebs linking
Every root and tree,
And caught in the web were shrivelled bats,
How big would the spiders be?
We cut and we hacked our way through these,
They clung at every step,
But Andrew had some sort of a fit
And he couldn't catch his breath.
A spider, big as a dinner plate
Was clinging to his back,
He screamed just once, then dropped to the ground
With a fatal heart attack.
The Doctor stumbled and gashed his arm
On the bark of a giant tree,
And sap was mingling with his blood
Before he pulled it free,
Then Tombs leant back on a mildew patch
And it stung, and clung to his skin,
‘I have a terrible feeling, Guys,
We'll never get out, ' said Timms.
We left Andrew, and we walked on through
The web, ‘til the Doctor cried,
‘I feel some terrible thing is growing
Here on my arm, inside.'
We looked at the arm of Avignon
And the skin looked just like bark.
While Tombs was growing a mildew patch
Up from his hand, in the dark.
His fingers were sprouting shoots and leaves
At an ever increasing pace,
‘By God, we've got to get out of here
For the sake of the human race.'
‘There's things down here that shouldn't be, '
Cried Carol Timms in fear,
Then began to tear off her sodden clothes
In a fit of hysteria.
A tribe of ants ran over her skin,
Were biting her red and raw,
I beat them off as she screamed, but others
Streamed on up from the floor,
In minutes she was stripped to the bone
And sank to the ground and died,
I turned to run, with Avignon,
With Tombs ahead as a guide.
We found a spot where the trees were felled
A clearing, long and wide,
A hole was torn in the canopy
I could see a storm-lit sky,
But Avignon was sprouting leaves
And some fungal type of rot,
For then the tendrils under his feet,
Rooted him to the spot.
While Tombs was growing a fungus, green
All over his hands and face,
It grew so fast, I couldn't believe,
But I knew he'd lost his race.
It sprouted out, all over his tongue
And choked at the back of his throat,
As he fell and died, I thought he sighed,
But all that was left was his coat.
The chopper found me, dropped me a line,
I was left a gibbering wreck,
I couldn't answer their questions then,
I doubt I could answer them yet!
I'd seen men basically turned to wood,
I'd seen one turn to a tree,
So didn't know whether I'd dare to show
The fungus that's growing in me!
25 January 2013
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