come to bargain under ancient trees.
path gives under every step, as soft
promises life made to me in threes,
the barren branches stretched aloft.
come to give a pebble’s worth in trade,
all who plead have only stone and name;
use has old, old ash for what I’ve made,
where it has been stunted by the same?
back, go back,’ the wheeling night-birds voice;
nests will never cradle aught of yours.’
have no past,’ we murmur, bleak, ‘–no choice.’
know you’ve none,’ they moan across the moors.
flames extinguish from the vastdeep marsh–
peat crawls inch by inch across my roots–
songs can match the night-birds, taut and harsh,
tongue that dries and cracks and involutes.
walk into the forest at my edge,
see the creeping moss which births the wood,
endlessly my pebble pledge,
so it may be understood.
wisps nor crakes nor coppers there within
only little cairns, forgotten now:
bargain never made where hope could win
any desperate pleas exact a vow.
the water, fast in time, lie we,
candles lit, so others, damned, are free.