The Forest Witch

Lost to the mysteries of drifting continents and time 
The ancient ones say this land was once covered with trees
These trees had voices, they whispered to each other
And to those who had tuned their ears to hear them
The roots entwining intimately beneath the cool earth
Blanketed with leaves, twigs, animal scat and mosses
Bashful fungi bursting through the crust and decay
Insects, bacterium and earthworms wriggle and writhe
Clutches of tangled limbs impenetrable and dense
A pasture, an opening, a sun soaked and verdurous knoll
Where a trinity of lagomorphs perch beside a sacred bell
And the forest witch upon her gnarled and woody throne
Presiding ungrudgingly over the precious pasturage
Beneath the sprawling canopy atremble in the dayspring dew
In a cloistered hermitage hidden from the eyes of the prying
Reached only through the careful divination of echoes 
Clutching courtesies of berries and vernal roots for nibbling hares
And with a ring of the bell and a tumble down the well
All afflictions miraculously mended upon emerging into the glade
Sprouting madly into the loving embrace of the healing dowager
Who smiles benignly, gently gathering them beneath her boughs
Reclaimed in whole to never abandon this spiritual sanctum
For their shadows now were bound to the eldritch yew
Languishing eternally free from illness pain or death
Their ceaseless suffering at last entirely drained from them

With an impetuous clanging, banging and bumping
The sounds of sharpened spades splitting moist and mossy marl
Scraping at the argillaceous earthen epidermis 
Setting stones amid rolling thunder of wagons 
Turning upon the tempered terra 
Axes set upon the trunks of timber
What could not be chopped or cleared was burned
Making way for the circumrotary engine of progress
Bearing the stone and timber torn asunder from their place of rest
The bedlam and ataxia of commerce and mobocracy
Bringing new healers who could no longer heal
Clinking coins clattering into their copper coffers
Unmindful of the susurrations of the soil and shrubbery
Which cower inculpable just beyond the mist
A tithing to the new gods sanctioned by empire
Erecting ivory towers, bells imprisoned in the spires
All to do their bidding, these usurpers of cultivation
Who rip from the roots the tender budding saplings
And plant instead their rigorous pestiferous flora
To proliferate among the plebeians caught daydreaming
Or perhaps napping by the stream

Dismissed as being merely bloated bletheration
Of those now deemed peasantry to be managed and saved
This strange provincial new and natty diaconate diaspora
Sensed itself threatened as it reclined upon its royal regency
Condemning rumors with demeaning language and myth
Behind canonicate curtains, foaming maws of seething beasties
Clandestine councils’ convocations, contriving cunning coordinations
Harvesting the professed fictions, armored upon their steeds
Weapons at the ready, galloping off to ring their bells in the mist
Vigorously listening for the telltale reverberations lofted on the breeze
To guide them through the shrouded maze of taught and tangled trees
Where once upon the meadow, with a zeal beyond lunacy
A swinging of swords and a tipping toward of the torches
The pastoral pastures set ablaze, without challenge conquered
And the eldritch yew devoured in a crackle of combustion
Reduced to a cinder of coals, leaving a pyre of charred embers
In triumph and celebration did the clergymen return
The forest witch was vanquished and the mighty woodlands burned
Vileness and venom seeping through the roots of the yew now poisoned
Their dominion furthermore asserted, the sole authority their own
The pearly tower grown another inch closer to heaven
And the clanging of the prisoner bell now heard across the hinterland
Calls them all to prayer and tithing, and for a bowl of rabbit stew