The Green Man

The Green Man

Deborah Beach Giordano
© April 30, 2010

I’m being pursued
by a creature
that doesn’t seem quite real;

his name echoes forth
in books and scholarly articles,
in notes from colleagues and friends.

He seems to be everywhere
this Green Man:
the lord of nature.

At first I dismissed him
as one I knew too well
in my youthful hippie days:

Cernunnos, the wild man;
the horned and hairy nuisance
bounding through the Renaissance Faire.

Been there, done that;
found it dusty, noisy, smelly,
and incomprehensible.

Or one of the countless gray visages
molded in concrete
grimacing in backyard gardens;

powerless suburban gargoyles
signifying nothing
except a fashion trend.

I saw him at his best
in the magical greening of the earth
that happens in an instant.

In that form I adore him:
a kind of leafy Johnny Appleseed
who sets the earth abloom.

But seasons change
and so does he:
one day the green turns to brown.

The leaves lose
their grasp
and fall

leaving the bare branches
shivering above them
as they drop to the ground.

Soon, untouched and uncared-for,
what was crisp and bright
becomes a stinking, fly-blown heap.

A part of nature, yet apart from it;
influenced by
and influencing his surroundings

the Green Man
turns dangerous, even deadly,
with neglect.

I know,
because I saw him
yesterday

crumpled up beside a wall,
his coat torn, his jeans in tatters,
his eyes bleary from drink,

nearly invisible,
a part of the landscape
in his covering of urban debris:

a pile of greasy gray rags
stained with oil splotches and sweat,
smelling of stale bread and Old Granddad;

a face made terrifying
by its leering grin
exposing blackened teeth.

Hurrying past,
clutching my coat
against the gathering storm,

blinking away
the wind-whipped dust
I turned my head and saw

beneath the grit and grime
his jacket had once been
green.

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About inklingscommunity

I am a struggling Christian, committed pacifist, near-obsessive recycler, incurable animal lover, inveterate tree-hugger; a nature mystic, a socialized introvert, an advocate for the vulnerable, an opponent of exploiters.
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