Ivy Wreaths are Multiplying by the River in the Woods
This is a lonely path, and that’s what I prefer:
a chance to watch the dipper in the stream,
the deer come down to drink,
the wren that bobs along the bank.
But lately all my pleasure’s spoiled by ivy wreaths
hung mysteriously along the way.
Whoever made them did so with great skill,
twining the supple lengths together
three strands at a time, tying them off
with a clever twist of stem. Some of them still fresh,
and some so small they’d fit a child’s wrist,
each one a perfect circle.
I ask about them in the village
but no-one seems to know: they say
they have not noticed them, or never
walk that way. And yet I sense evasion
in their words, even those who cry
“Oh, secret art, how wonderful!”
Someone knows, I’m sure, in this, a county
of peculiar beliefs, where even walls
are carved with marks to ward off witchcraft
and the evil eye. They know, but will not say.
I reach a hand to lift one down, then stop,
my mind is screaming ‘No, Don’t touch! Don’t touch –
you don’t know what you might be bringing home!’
I tell myself they must be blessings on the trees,
a pleasant fiction and I half believe, until I find
all night they loom and terrorise my sleep.