Wild Forest

UNTAMED: WILDERNESS AND CIVILISATION

 

Part One.

 

She swims through the shadowy deep. Along the inky bottom of the deepest fissure, past dark caves; the homes of her monsters who inhabit this watery world. As she darts upwards, the plates shift erupting ocean vents that lift her towards the fiery spectating sun. The waves mirror the motion of her twisting body, as she breaks the surface her grinning face is met by the warm rain. Using the intrinsic pull of the well-wishing moon she prances towards my coast swaddled in an erratic storm. 

 

She plays in the rich dark soil, mixing and stirring in the seeds she finds, I am her canvas, her layered font, moulding clay and planting mountains. She likes how the snow and ice gleam in the moonlight, like wood sap or wet shells. Depending on her mood she can chase the sparkling night or the vivid day, the stars or the wind, skipping and rolling into pits and canyons and climbing out to find meadows and glaciers.  

 

She does not tend to her kingdom, I am her playground for running and diving and shaping. She sleeps in the thick blanket of dense verdure and tempestuous weather. She hunts with her creatures, exploiting the enjoyment of survival, laughing and skipping through my wildlands. In the hot deserts she surfs, down the dunes with sand under her nails and in her ears. Basking in the golden swell she watches dragons rise and float in the scorching haze. Letting herself be guided and hypnotised by the ever-changing skies she rides uncovering every nook and guise. 

 

In this terrestrial realm, her Eden or Lumbini, she is oblivious to its profound purity and unencumbered freedom, as she has never known a different world. The only marks left by her games are the marks on her; scars from thorns, pooled bruises on her legs and cracks on her skin from the spectator hanging in the sky above. She is greedy and full of manic excitement, although she lives in solitude she has never known loneliness due to her constant exploration and celebration of my volatile environment. 

 

 

She danced across my shell all days and nights,

Not once grew weary of the glistening sights,

She swam in my ocean through waves and clouds

Celebrated my imperfections loud,

Like old friends we aged together and learned

What it means to walk in the fire unburned.

Then out the fire walked a strange new face,

He looked around, took in our plump, dense place,

His steps on my skin burned like hot hell fire

His wide eyes filled with hunger and desire,

He surveyed my rock, my soil, my oceans,

He weighed our kingdom and forged a notion,

But then seeing her he faltered a while,

Saw power and wildness in her smile.

 

 

Part Two.

 

She didn’t know what to make of him. Was he like her? He had a strange stare and wide eyes that seemed to grow the more our realm fell under his gaze. For the first time ever she didn’t feel as free; now I, her world, her kingdom must be shared. Shared. She turned and leapt away, this was her dominion, her castle of mayhem that she could play in and dance in and revel in. Was it her fault he was here, where did he come from? Out of the clay and mud and magma. This was our sphere, she and I in control, under her influence, a part of her, an extension of her body. 

 

He decided to follow. He was new among these rocks and folds, a fearful excitement brewed in his body. He desperately wanted to learn, to belong, so he ran after her as fast as he could, barely able to keep up. He watched her float and dive over lakes and into crevasses. He would swallow the thick lumpy terror and jump, blindly, often falling and tumbling, tearing his new skin. She spun into the jungle, the leaves and branches welcoming her, as extensions of her veins, running deep along the roots of the trees. She tiptoed down narrow, sharp branches hundreds of feet high, eyes shut and grinning back through the humid air. Looking on he realised that she was almost dreaming; an elated sleep-dance through her own mind, her own creations. He tried but the branches gnawed at his arms and ankles and the leaves whipped at his back. An outsider. Crawling slowly he relentlessly followed, trying to balance, often falling into the thorns below and having to climb back up, through the heavy poisoned ivy that wrapped around his neck and stung his skin. 

 

In the desert, she bathed in the sand and whispered to the miasma with sounds he didn’t recognise. He pranced about on the sand as it burned his feet, drenched in sweat, barely able to retain consciousness. He watched her, cartwheeling through the long savanna grasses. She clapped her hands together in adoration and the earth erupted, boiling liquid rock, hot and glowing flowed past her as she waded in, he watched from the razor-edged cliff. The sky went black and he wondered if he would ever find a homeland. 

 

He followed her to the blue expanse and sprung from the rocks after her. She dived, darting between the watery moonbeams and vanishing into the depths. He tried to follow, thrashing about and sinking lower, the heavy water hanging on his shoulders. Translucent floating bubbles reached for him with their long tentacular arms, shocking him and scalding his hands. The motion pushed his back against the rocks, his eyes closed as he leaned back unable to breath. Stars entered his eyeline and he hoped they were the ones that hung in the sky and not the ones that burned in his head. He awoke, throat full of sand and wrapped in ocean grass. He crawled into a sheltered coastal cave and slept, furtively hoping she would return. 

 

 

He sits in the deep dark, under my skin,

Where secrets are hidden and walls are thin

His body goes to sleep in the stone tomb

But his mind so loud its grinding cogs loom,

An influx of rank dread creeps in shadows,

Picking up crumbs of rocks he frowns, then throws,

A simple action, yet senseless and cruel

Chipping at my wave-made vestibule

They say curiosity killed the cat,

And without the dead cats, I’d still be flat

She is so curious, but so gently,

For centuries we two have lived intently

She kept me warm with her fondness until

He arrived with us, now I feel a chill.

  

 

Part Three.

 

He stayed in the cave for many months throwing stones. They reverberated throughout my veins to my core. The stones would chip and mark the walls, he picked them up and scored into my bones. I begged the moon to bring in the highest tide, hoping that he would get washed out and away, but he dug in deeper. He drew shapes and symbols all over the walls haunted by the constant ticking of his brain, driven by a need for continuous discovery. He threw the rocks again and again breaking off bigger pieces each time and collecting them like precious milk teeth hidden under a pillow. He was exhausted, cold, deafeningly hungry and he knew he would have to fight to remain in this world. And then it happened: a chip and a spark, that for a second, lit up the bleak cavity. He didn’t know it then, but this simple discovery to his greedy brain, was the greatest weapon that he would ever utilise and in that moment his power exceeded hers.

 

Time passed. She had watched him that first week, watched him fall, watched him break. They were not the same. She ran and jumped with her eyes shut and the wilds always caught her. But not him. He was not made for this place. She had watched him quake and shiver in the ice, slip and bleed in the jungle and get burnt in the desert. These became her favourite hiding places, they were as beautiful and dangerous as her, and out of his reach. Most importantly though, he could not go in the sea. She had observed his thrashing and sinking, he was unable to swim, to breathe. She spent a lot of time in the depths after that, out of sight, exploring and playing, sometimes even forgetting she shared this world. 

 

She finally decided to find him, see what he had been doing in their time apart. But first, she found my wounds. Huge areas on my surface scorched away by his uncontainable sparks. Her creatures: motionless in the dirt. She wept for me and I for her, the damage to us both was severe and our sorrow brought a month-long pounding storm. He had been busy creating and quietly destroying. Every stone he took from me, he had stacked up to create his monuments of futile establishment. He had trampled away the grass and bulbs and seeds so nothing grew there, now only a quagmire of footprints. He had pulled the trees which once slighted him, limb from limb, using their dismembered parts for his sombre effigies. Over time his hand-carved network grew, ruined habitats, changed the course of rivers, digging deeper and deeper into me. His hold on me started to tighten. 

 

 

Excavations into me were endless,

But I had her and he was still friendless,

He didn’t tire, just digging, scratching, stacking,

Believed it was a noble hijacking,

After years he had spun his web so thick,

That all beneath had suffocated quick,

His dwellings and towers he slowly filled,

With creatures of his ilk that helped him build,

They muttered and flinched conversing between,

She watched on from distant shadows unseen,

He believed in his work, his own domain

Slowly creating a newer terrain,

Forging his shiny empire from my blood,

Virtue and innocence; lost in the mud.

  

 

Part Four.

 

I would say the rest is history, as history began around this time but it is his history not mine, not ours. He developed writing, reading, arts, governance: all the things that weave together into the fabric of antiquity. He grew and grew and in what seemed like no time at all, he could reach his arms all the way around me, planting his deep roots into my heart and sucking out my strength. His following had grown tenfold and he had to quench their roaring hunger for food, resources, and most of all their constant need for control.  

 

For years it seemed his only job was to conquer her. She withered and shrunk creeping away to the hills, to the mountains that seemed to be exceptions to history. She had once had roots too; kind roots, roots that shared, that gave back. Our energy was sustained in a perfect loop that passed from me to her and back. But her roots had been removed, pulled out and scorched, she had to retreat. 

 

He had seen it that first week. He couldn’t control her, she couldn’t be taught or tamed, but he learnt from her, he learnt the unapologetic dance, he saw what I had to offer and he saw no threat. He was hurt by our beautiful, peaceful kingdom. It cut him and threatened him and knocked him down, but he got back up. 

 

After a while of surviving in the mountains, swimming in the depths of the rising blue, keeping to the hottest deserts and the frozen shrinking ice, she noticed a change. His people ran to her. Not to slice or shovel or sear, but to shelter from him, from fear. They worshiped her and the mountains she planted so many centuries ago. They restored the loop, nourished in the haven she provided. 

 

However I had grown weaker than ever before, I was a shell, a defenceless crust surrounding a hollow pit that he had stuffed full of poison. And slowly, slowly, he began to notice. He looked around his hard grey world, searching for her, calling her, but she did not speak his foreign tongue. Desperately he planted trees that once grazed him, he protected the land that did not protect him and he did his best to reduce the colossal amounts of poison. As his violet eyes glanced over his creation, he didn’t recognise the place where he was born. It may seem like he cared too little, but perhaps he cared too much? 

 

 

A eulogy written by its subject

A world of desolation and neglect,

I used to be a sweet marble of blue,

Now a sour taste and a blistering view.

Her and I we basked in the cheerful sun,

Reactive and serene, at peace, as one,

But this garden is now flooded with woe

He has performed his devastating show

And only now are the deep cracks revealed,

He’s weakened my protective, lucid shield,

Scared of the irreversibility,

Hostility turns to humility.

And under the universe’s murky sky

The wise sun, wishing moon and pale stars sigh.

 

 

 

By Molly Sellers

A TALE OF TWO

IN FOUR PARTS