Green Men and Virgin Goddesses



Green Men

Green Men grin and gurn
From blackened beams,
That creak and groan as
Ancient houses dream;
Swayed by wind in
Branches long since snapped.
Foliate faces flower in the
Memory of an antique hour,
Unwinding beneath a
Carpenter’s craft;
Masons also saw their shape
Sleeping in the stone.
So all is forest then:
Vegetable, mineral,
Flesh and bone.
The World Tree becomes
The column of my spine,
Eyelids: leaves of Oak.
Fingers: Ash and Pine.
I am lost within a wood
That is lost within me.
Green Men grin and gurn,
For no one knows more
Than they what is and is not tree.

© 1994



Both ninth wave and ninth particle,
I am a quantum mechanics of
flowers and feathers.
I am made negative or positive
by the politics of fashion.
My thighs are bronze age riddles
That whisper as I walk at a pitch
only lovers and poets perceive,
Like a warning of seven
notches cut into birch bark.
I am a duality of alphabets
in constant flight and flux,
tree ogham / bird ogham
bird ogham / tree ogham
Sap sings in my belly
warm as a nest of down.
I, Blodeuwedd, am clothed in the
Long memory of the bluebell,
On this dawn of owl pellet grey,
When women and men embrace trees
to protect them from
bulldozers and earthmovers.

© 1993

Blodeuwedd is known as the Welsh Virgin Goddess of Spring, or “Flowerface,” and there are many who believe that she was just as deadly as she was beautiful. She was known, as well, as “The Ninefold Goddess of the Western Isles of Paradise,” and her totem was the owl, a bird of wisdom and lunar mysteries.


Blackberry Ghosts

for Robert Holdstock

We rode the hedgerow horses
As far as the edge woods.
As I look back today, through
A coppiced memory and feel
Again the weight of a basket,
Afternoon heavy with dark
Clusters of vitamin stars,
Wrists and arms patterned
With bramble scratches.
Ritual exchanges of blood
For fruit seemed fair enough
To us kids; our hands stained,
Remaining dark long after our
Mouths lost their memory.
I ride again, the hedgerow horses
As far as the edge woods
But no further, for at the
Rim of a Green Hole
Time distortions abound.
In the bracken my foot finds
A rusty pre-ring-pull can
Opened by a church-key in the
Hands of a pre-teenager who I
Hope in turn was opened by life.
Blackberry ghosts crowd the
Periphery of my vision and
Though I stand stock still, a lighter,
Faster version of myself,
A Chalk Boy from an abandoned
Earth Work, is traveling the
Wents and Hollowings, intent on
Finding a breach in the impenetrable
Oak vortices, an oscillating traverse
Leading to an uncoppiced past.

© 2003

The artwork in this article is by the author.

Bill Lewis in Margutte: Letters Flying from the Page


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