hadn't thought to see a burnt corpse standing
there like any other blackened tree stump smoking slightly
adding to the morning haze.
So could we simply say and then move on
that Paul it was who'd set alight the Longfoot Wood?
Or should we say it was his father forest ranger
lover of trees since he was five years old taking Paul
to see the ancient yews
great trees like octipi giant spiders spinning webs
their heavy branches
falling to the ground
to root themselves back in the earth from which they came
and more like tentacles than something vegetable?
Or was it earlier when Paul was taken by his dad
to see the blasted oak refigured by the lightning stroke
resembling a witch?
Was that when Paul's "deep dendrophobia" (the coroner) took hold?
the point at which the fire became ordained?
Or was it simply the faint match-on-match-box scratching sound
the elderberry made
on windy nights against Paul's bedroom window?
How did it come to end the way it did? A chemical accelerator
so the fire chief said.
(He opened up some cracking views across to Stony Hill, did Paul
I'll give him that.)