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Wake up and smell the Heather ©

Danny Reynolds
Dalton in Furness, England

They’ve thinned out the woods round Balloch Castle
Pulled all the rhododendrons out
The forest floor looks bare and decongested
More natural, but not as I recall it.
Once, such dense undergrowth
A jungle of paths to be carved with your stick
Imposing yet alluring

Now the conservationist's laws reshape
And dictate, to allow the return of the natural fauna
While the grey squirrel thrives by the broad Scottish pines
And the red squirrel pines for sanctuary
If I compare them to the Black woods of my youth
They will never reach that stature in my time
The Black woods where you disappeared
Barely twenty yards in but swallowed whole
No wind, and only the occasional daub of dappled highlighting
Where hide and seek was futile, with every path
Littered with snapping twigs and always
The promise or threat of the deer or stag.

Somewhere there are two shoe-boxes
Filled with dried ferns and pine cones
One is in someone’s loft
The other’s in my mind.

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