The Green Man


Star fire, a ring of nine stones none of us
could lift, a small mountain of embers, flickering,
three long saplings rowan, birch and sycamore,
root-first in the glow; to steam and hiss, catch flame
and cause a room of light in Churnet Woods.

Most of those who came the thousand miles
are long asleep. Only the quiet man from Elmet
shares this watch; neither of us much inclined to
speak; we keep the flame, consider the vast silences
of the old world, the slow, soft entropy of things.

Beltain: the cusp, not winter now, nor summer yet;
through a gulf in the trees, a turret and a racing
moon, a shift of stars; long after midnight, raindrops
then stars again, the call of owls, and far away,
the faintest belling of some sleepless hound.

Gawain Country: the cold cell of his nameless
scrivener stood not a mile from here; these dark woods
and trails would ring, where the war horse Gringolet
struck iron on stone, made sparks like these along
the last meanderings of his winter quest.

Morning, pale dawn, with celandines and thrushes;
young Thomas brings down fern to wake the fire; finds
under the ash, an ugly head, glowering, like scintered glass,
faceted, and with a timeless glare that seems to say
“ I am The Green Man, The Keeper of the Summer Gate.”