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Sunday 14 April 2013

A Very Private Monster

Outside my childhood bedroom window,
a tree of unknown species --
the family at variance.
I don't recall I ever saw it in full leaf,
though leaf buds came and went,
but never blossom and no fruit.
It had a scar down one side from a lightning strike.

On windy nights my phantasoid*
might take possession of the tree,
the tree become a miscreation in disguise.
The creature's bony fingers scratched
across my window pane in search of -- always searching --
for that one elusive crack, a weakness, a way in.
Sometimes it found it, and its digits or its arms
would wind their way across my ceiling,
down the walls, and even scrawl
their patterns on the pages of the book
that I'd be reading with my torch.

It had, I came to realise, as many arms
and fingers as its work required.
No point in counting them. Their numbers changed
from one look to the next. In constant flux,
I would have needed to know calculus
to calculate the sum. Two heads it had --
that much seemed constant -- black and grey.
The grey one scowled or roared, the black
just smiled, as if to say Good day!

On stormy nights when all the elements
turned really wild it aged enormously.
I called it then my phantaswick* -- because
it had a beard (on its grey face)
that stood up to attention like a wick.

A monster of a mystery, it never frightened me,
but next day if the storm had passed, I'd go and look:
the tree was quite unchanged, the miscreation
quite restored and unpossessed -- and far too far
away to ever scratch my window pane. Nothing
of note to catch a small boy's interest, except
two birds' nests side by side -- one black, one grey --
and maybe something weeping from the scar.

Written for Brian Miller's prompt at dVerse Poets Poetics ~ Monsters
* My names for


Elephant's Child said...

You are braver than I am. We had a tree which did when the wind came from the east scratch my bedroom window. And it gave me the horrors every time, despite knowing exactly what it was.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

The trees! The trees!

Understand this Dave as a tree of unknown origin infiltrated the fears and dreams of my childhood..

As I grew, so did my understanding of its needs - it just wanted to come out of the damn cold!

And so began my love of trees...

Anna :o]

Tabor said...

What a frightened little boy! Good job on the transformation part.

Vaccinius said...

Children have a vivid imagination. :-)

J Cosmo Newbery said...

I always used to check the ground around the cypress trees in out back yard after a storm. Always had cracks but never blew over.

Unknown said...

Dave how many of us young or old are frightened by the scratchings of dead tree branch against our windows at night.... and more so the horror we evoke in our own thoughts of what could be. Enjoyed- thank you

Brian Miller said...

oo nice. love the detail in this dave...ha, i grew up in the woods so the trees def held some fear to me at night til i understood them a bit more...

Claudia said...

ha what a mysterious tree indeed...i bet it had many stories to tell..cool write dave

Ella said...

I can't help, but think of the movie

The tree haunted that poor child...
I remember bare branches scratching my windows in the night-
You poem gives me the chills~

Creepy good!

Grace said...

Love the story of the tree, a miscreation in disguise ~ I found it creepy that its bony fingers are always searching for the one elusive crack ~ The ending is superb Dave ~

Mary said...

You have woven a wonderfully monstrous tale here. I do think sometimes trees DO have personalities...especially on those stormy nights.

Gerry Snape said...

once again a story to capture our imagination. Don't you think we all invent our monsters? Maybe we need them in our lives so that we can prove that we overcome them?

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This reminds me of the movie "poltergeist". Have you seen it. The scary tree scene during the storm still gives me chills!

Truedessa said...

A very interesting tale..I like the opening line..a lot of detail brings the piece to life.

Carl said...

Congratulations! You are still tapped into that imagination we have in childhood that leaves many of us all too soon on our road to becoming 'good productive members of society'. I love this one.

Wolfsrosebud said...

do like the nature around this... and the life you breathed into it

Ygraine said...

What a fabulous childhood memory!
I can so relate to your child-self. I am this way still...see things in other things.
Trees that come to life in half-light are among my most treasured acquaintances!
How I adore this...:)

Dave King said...

Elephant's Child
Ah, but I co-operated in the creation of my monster! Thanks for.

That's fabulous. I certainly do understand it, it's wonderful. What a thought to grow up with as your very own!

Yoy're right. Although ti was "my" monster, we are frightened of ourselves sometimes, are we not?

Anders Woje
Hi, welcome. Thanks for commenting. My parents thought me over-imaginative, I think!

Much thanks for this. Really good to have you visiting and commenting. It certainly is as you say.

Thanks for this. V. sorry you are leaving us. Hope not for too long. Will certainly miss you.

Thanks. Yes, I was actually very fond of that tree!

Ah, yes. Poltergeists -- I don't think \i knew about them that far back. If only...
Good to have your thoughts. A warm welcome to you.

Thanks Grace - a really encouraging comment.

Yes, I can remember thinking that about some trees - mostly ones in our garden.

Yes, I do think we invent our monsters. Very much so. And your explanation of why is as good as any I've heard. Thanks for this.

Optimistic Existentialist
Yes, I do think trees can be very scary. Some have two sides to their natures.

Thanks for this comment, and a very warm welcome to you. Good to have you visiting.

Thanks Carl. Much appreciated.

Thanks for saying so. Beautiful comment.

Well, a strange one in many ways: there are islands of memory and huge blanks.

Dave King said...

J Cosmo
Heh, that's creepy in itself. Thanks for the visit and a warm welcome. Good to have your company. - Apologies for missing you out on my first run-through.