POETRY Reading: ARBOREALITY, by Martin Cox

Performed by Val Cole

POEM:

Standing in Line. Eyes front.
No acknowledgment. Robotic recruits
Uniforms pressed. Knife-edge creases.
Summer sunshine. Corona causation.
Shoes shone. Reflective leather. Bows tied.
Tarsal protection. Cobbled, with a mirror image.

No one speaks. Wordless. Mute.
Personal thoughts? Dubious!
Typical English. Restrained. Controlled.
Vehicle now approaches. A two-tiered behemoth.
Military Green-hued. Land-locked missile.
Troopship travel. Ever advancing.

Rubber eating asphalt. Esurient bugger!
Be-capped captain of the vessel, front right aligned.
Serious, concentrated. Steers to our loading bay.
Shuffles begin. Slow, but steady as she goes.
No smiles, no colloquy. Simply shuffles.
Tuneless accordion doors slide open.

Onboarding. Pass showing protocol.
Welcoming officer, cold. Indifference abounds.
I bid him “Good morning, Sir”.
A practiced scowl retorted. Disparaged.
At last. Now, as one with the tacit team.
Herd comfort. Recognition. United.

Conquer the stairs to level two. Privileged deck.
Seating rare in this terrain. Semi extinct. Scoping panjandrums.
Hunters all. Survival of the fittest. Perchance
Target identified. Crosshairs locked on. Homing in.
Document case launched. Laser accurate. 
Target secured. Touch down. Seat meets seat.

A window glance confirms movement. Forward motion.
Speeding. Burning gas. Ice caps thawed. Globe warmed.
A juggernaut hurtling. Chasing time. Mach 1.
Soon be there. Raging anticipation. Pulsation. Momentarily.
My private happy place. Mon endroit heureux.
Secrets to be shared. Jointly enjoyed. Canopied euphoria.

Emerald canopy infiltrated. A virtual, verdure veil.
No others stir. Oblivious to nature. Unseeing. Unappreciative.
Sunlight on dappled leaves. Rays converse. Au Courant.
Morse code messaging. Covert contact. Mine alone.
I revel. This is MY time. Although time’s halted. Frozen.
Enter the single Silver Birch, stoic in a realm of Horse Chestnuts.

That Betula Pendula taught me so very much.
We communicate as I glide by. Subliminal sign on.
Actual logging in. Mental discourse
I query if he is sad, lonely.
“Alone, but not lonely!” He continues.
“You visit, Flora and Fauna drop by, the sun, the wind…So blessed”.

Certain about the canopy?
“Absolute certainty. It’s the pain”
Trees do feel pain?
We accelerate past. Strain for the last words.
Glimpse skyward. The sun still messaging.
No branches touch the top of our vehicle.

Words float over the engine’s roar,
“Yes, we all feel pain”.
“We all feel love. Like you, we avoid the Via Delorosa”
Over and out. Communications link lost.
Until tomorrow. Jusqu’à demain mon ami.
A smugly smile steals across my face.

Eyes tight shut. Blind celebration. Yes!
Virtual high five. Fist bump fantasy. Ultimate pctureless selfie.
Ephemeral ecstasy. Cerebral celebration.
Furtive observation. Other travelers oblivious.
My secret secure. Locked up tight.
As tight as a very tight thing. Key concealed.

Terminus looms. The canopy, a rearview mirror throwback.
Glorious morning. Another miracle. One of many already today.
Cradled once more by Mother Nature. With absolute proof.
Loneliness is a mental state. Alone, exclusively physical.
Disembarking. Stepping out. Eyes peer heavenward.
Pupils contract. Gratitude expands. Thankful.

Thankful I have learned all living things have feelings.
Thankful for complete acceptance. To be trusted. Intimate inclusion.
Meandering through the milling throng. Trudging. Diluted enthusiasm.
To the daunting building on the hill. A bastion of cruelty.
Supposedly of learning. Dark, foreboding. School.
A manifestly different journey ahead. Purely, a real mental state.

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