‘Call of the Laurel Tree’ and ‘The Arrival’

Lorelei Bacht

25. Call of the Laurel Tree

Yet you continue to pursue. Wanting
my dark, demanding remedies, sending
little red hoods clutching baskets,

losing siblings among the trees,
claiming careless, silently hoping for
a wolf, a witch, a tripped and fell face

forward in the stream, likely story. What
do you want from me? My burrows, my
mosses – you claim to hate, and yet

come back, come back. Night after
night after night, you turn a nasty tune,
you issue a warrant, snare a badger,

burn a thicket. You call it sorcery, yet
demand a dancing, a viewing of black
scarves, a taste of blood. You find me

repulsive, you say. Why cross a fence,
break a promise? Did I make you? Do I
care for your bread and jam? Go tell it

to your priest,

and do not bother to come back.


5. The Arrival

When they were first deposited
in the forest, our fathers’ fathers,
or theirs, they had no food to eat,

nor clothes to wear. They had to learn
it overnight, the dark magic of survival.

Sometimes, I press my face to stones,
or search for the gold of sunlight
in between rotten leaves. If I had any

hope, what would I do with it?

I was born to this maze, these drapes
of green on black, sister to the raven,
the birch. My mother will not speak

of our arrival. How it unfolded, or
precisely who carries the blame of it.
She says that the sky is as large

as the forest, larger perhaps, and there
are fields – the fields are flat but fenced.

The fields must sing a different song
to that of the forest, and anyway, they
have made it clear that we are

not welcome. They travelled us a while
before settling us here, our dispersal
through trial and error. There were

contacts at first, before we grew into
our own terror. I am an animal. Lean
and agile. I catch a rook, a brook, a king,

a fishing butterfly all in one go, and eat
them all. I spend most of my days
reading the underside of leaves,

and sounding out the wind. If they had
done the same to you, if you had arrived
here naked and blindfolded, you would

not have survived. You would not have
divined the stream for clams, the bark
for millipedes and other edibles, you

would not have devised a catapult, or
woven a jacket out of reed-grass. That
is why you fear us, perhaps.

Lorelei Bacht is a multicultural poet living in Asia. A former political analyst and lobbyist, she has been using poetry to explore the universal, psychological, embodied nature of political violence through history. Her work has appeared / is forthcoming in such publications as Rise Up Review, The Wondrous Real, The Antonym, Abridged Magazine, Odd Magazine, Postscript, Strukturriss and Slouching Beast Journal. She is also on Instagram: @lorelei.bacht.writer and on Twitter @bachtlorelei