Poetry and Image
R.G. Liberty


Within the dark environs of Innisfil township,
On the high north brow
Of West Gwillimbury,
Spreads the black and watery veins
Of Aldwych Wood.
As long as memory,
It has exuded its peculiar, dank aura
Over the surrounding landscape.
And in time,
With human habitation,
Dampened spirits,
Arrested fulfillment,
Fomented concern
And fostered a furtiveness
In the settlers who gravitated
To the farms and villages
That now dot the corrupted face
Of Innisfil.

And the people quietly hide
On their hilly plots
Of rocky land,
Striving to draw no further
Dark attention from
Whatever inconceivable Entity
Watches them live their
Guarded lives
Festering and deforming their dreams
Noisomely crushing their stunted hopes
From within the haunts of
Aldwych Wood

Expansive and wild, the Wood
Teems hideously
With all manner of creatures
Who secrete themselves
Within its dark confines.
Rustling and flapping,
Slithering and swimming,
Skittering and crawling.
They are natural to a degree,
Or once were,
When the forest was young
And the hills were clean.

But now, of a night
In the warmer seasons,
The animals call in mocking voices ,
Cry as they struggle through dense undergrowth,
On pseudo legs.
Or flop from branch to branch
On wings
No longer suited to flight.
Catching, instead, and grasping with
Newly formed hands.
And squelch through the ubiquitous slime
That is the soul
Of Aldwych.

Barely keeping hauntingly intelligent eyes
Above the mire.
They murmur constantly,
One to the other,
Of why they wish to leave
Aldwych Wood,
But, lament that they never will.
Because what poisons the soils
And streams
Of this place
Has gouged the beauty and purity
From the creatures within
And replaced it with a noxious,
Fungous travesty
That can exist
In no other place.

And although anathema and shunned
By most,
There are some who make their living
From the Wood.
Those who harvest windfall
As fuel
From its extreme perimeter.
Those who collect loam and peat
And forest flotsam
From the dead and sunlit edges
As fertilizer
For the surrounding townships
(For none in Innisfil will mix
Foul soil with clean)
To feed their twisted crops.

There are even those, still, who
Ply a terrible trade
In the trapping and exploitation
Of Aldwych oddities.
They display and sell these dreadful denizens
From roadside shacks and stands
On humid, buzzing summer days
Tempting passers through
And curious tourists
With lurid signs and unholy promises.
Hinting at the eldritch deformities
On exhibit within.

It is these same few,
Brave or foolhardy ~
for the forest devours them at a steady rate ~
Or connected somehow
To another, older set of laws;
Who if pressed will
Intimate of the palpable nature
Of the Wood.
Communicate guarded opinions
Of how far one is safe in penetrating
Its cloak of shadows.
And explain, with a finger to the nose
And a fist grasping a bottle,
The myriad sounds
Echoing always in Aldwych.

How to listen for the soughing
And sighing.
How to read the rustling
And the skittering
And the murmuring
And the whispered arguments
In tiny, desperate, voices
You swear you can hear
Just beyond your hearing.

When to shiver at
The snap of a twig
The innocuous splash of a rill
And the dull, muddy, sucking footfalls
That approach
And surround.
And retreat
And return.

They whisper of how to read the signs and
Recognize the warnings.
When to still your breath.
When to crouch and hide.
When to run with all your strength.
And when to kneel and pray
Because the time for running
Has passed.

The song of the frogs,
Is a constant cacophony
Throughout Innisfil
From the first thaw
Till the first frost
And their chorusing is hypnotic
And consuming
And narcotic
And alluring
And eventually,

They awake from their little deaths
Into the slowly roiling
Muddy waters that is the blood of
Aldwych Wood.
They take their first breaths of new life
And wait
And listen.
And they do not stir
Nor do they take a second breath.

They hear the subterranean
Reverberation of an impossibly great
Heart beating as it has
Seemingly forever,
Signaling its acceptance of their presence.
Once again.

Only then do the frogs begin to live.
They call into the mists
First tentatively
Then with vehemence
And they call
And call.
Through courtship and mating
Deep thrumming
Sweet trilling
Savage croaking
Strident calls.
And then the piercing chirruping
Of the newly spawned
Joins the din of millions

And their calls are answered
Basso profundo
Monstrously vibrating
Through the soil
And the clay
And the mud
And the waters
And the leaves
And the creatures that exists
As Aldwych Wood
From the hideous soul
Of the One
Who grants what lives are allowed
In this place.

Detaching themselves from the mire
On two or four or more legs
And dripping filth as they walk the blasted face
Of Innisfil
They deal watery, suffocating death
And slow consumption
To the unknowing wanderer ~
And clasping, clutching, crushing terror
To the settlers who gravitate
To the farms and villages
That now scar the corrupted face
Of Innisfil

Who do they serve?
The frogs?
The denizens?
The many-legged deformities
With their victim dead
And their alien songs?
Who feeds from the sifting corpses
And the primal fears ~
The dark distress and stunted hopes
Of Innisfil?
What thing manipulates those frightened,
Furtive souls
Who cannot escape the spiritless
Rocky hills and the
Wasted face
Of this ashen landscape?
Dreaming their deformed dreams?
Striving to draw no further
Dark attention?
What inconceivable Entity
Does Aldwych Wood
And Innisfil protect?