poem30 May 2016 08:43 am
By Coyau / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12817103

By Coyau / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12817103

Dusk is the hour
when memory pulls strongest,
when twin green tendrils
of hope and despair
snarl my gut
and tug hard.

The day’s dying light
tastes of home,
my lost, soft, twilight world
soaked in all the shades of life
I seek fruitlessly amongst
the beans on my meagre plate.

As you would say,
we came here green and
ignorant of your ways,
lured by a rich siren call of bells,
the brightness of your land
burning in my eyes

like a forest of emeralds,
shiny promises that lied
though we did not know that then:
two innocents trapped by your false splendour
as much as the wolf pit
you found us in.

We clung to our green truth
for as long as we could,
starved until raw beans were offered
then kale, cabbage, the bread of life.
We continued to eat,
to consume your world,

thinking to immerse
your ways within us,
to become one with their enticing shine,
but they washed away our colour
and spat us out
leaving me one alone.

My brother-self withered,
gave up the struggle,
his soul returning
where his body could not.
I took a native mate, trying
to grow myself whole again.

I allowed him to immerse
himself in me, hoping
to become one with your ways.
The town’s hard stone streets
taught me I
will always now walk alone.

They say I lead
a normal life.
Normal for whom?
I have lost my colour,
my world,
my self.

I am faded as pale as you
except at dusk, the hour
when memory pulls hardest,
and fresh green tendrils of despair
grow and snarl
around my gut.

The Suffolk folk tale of the green children of Woolpit apparently dates from the twelfth century. The reapers were out working in the fields around the village, when out of one of the wolf pits emerged two vivid green children, a boy and a girl, their clothes unfamiliar and speaking in an unknown language. At first they wouldn’t eat, but eventually did, beginning with beans and vegetables. After a period of assimilation, including being baptized into the Christian Church, the boy died, but the girl lived on, learnt to speak English, married a local man and moved to King’s Lynn where she purportedly led a normal life.


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