Before the Druids of Eld

SUSAN DALE

Too fearful and too restless to sit for any length of time, he stood to continue. Slowly, he cut through the heavy brush with his machete. The grasses, being thick with moisture, kept slipping out of his sweaty grasp. Drowning in sweat, he stopped to wipe perspiration from his face with his lucky towel. He panted courage into his trembling soul.

Fears of the unknown and of what lie ahead were lurking to jump out at him. Motions dodging behind the undergrowth. Feeling things passing in front of him.

Something brushing his face; someone tapping him on the shoulder; something following in his footsteps. Turning quickly to see who it was, he saw shadows of motions. With heart thumping, he dared look up … and that is when he saw motions swinging through the canopies of trees and vines; something moving through the profundity of primordial vegetation.

’I am wandering through a terrain of uncertainties,’ he deducted, then thought further: ‘I am a wandering man, groping my way through my uncertainties.’

While hacking his way through fecundity, he was traveling through passages of time. Time and the jungles getting deeper, heavier. Over the wild earth he stumbled to feel its seams stretching with an — far from yesterdays. Far from the tomorrows of time counted, he was traveling through time blurred and vague; gray time, time heavy with wet moss, a fearful time.

Around him, above him, and in the corners and empty spaces lurked vicious- looking plants and insects. Beaked birds and horned creatures in the treetops gazed down at him through a gray fecundity.

Amazingly, plants were sprouting from other plants. Plants running rampant to propagate the jungle’s dimensions. Motions of their growing were stretching motions; motions surging to cover eerie trees, under-growth, grasses. He witnessed them, these same plants expanding to shroud the sunlight. Tufts of mosses expanding on top of other mosses; mosses being choked out by their own profundity.

Mosses hanging from tree branches in gray drapery. Within the denseness of these expansions, creatures were spawning with nearby creatures. Plants tangling with plants. North, south, east, west; in all directions everything and every being propagating, spawning, birthing. And all growing at alarming speeds, all conspiring to strangle the jungles of unchanging seasons.

He turned quick to see that he was suddenly without shadows. Choking, he wondered, ‘do I even exist? What dimensions am I passing through?’

The light around him was swallowed by gray mist; his feet sinking in thick mosses.

Across expanding roots he tripped. Hacking his way forward with the corpse’s machete, he pushed leaves and branches away from his face. He stumbled around clumps of tall grasses. And all the while he traveled through these labyrinths, he was seeing unformed shapes. And as these shapes moved, they stretched wide until they became part of a vague and smeared terrain.

‘Could it be the Cherokee trickster coming to spook me?’

Or might it be the results of primeval beings spawning from and since the beginning of time. Machiavellian creatures? Or what do I call them? Hiding, ducking, climbing trees. And such trees as they are; all towering above me. Closing out the skies, draped in vines across the treetops.’

Some trees were wrapped in bark that covered a sap, capable of blinding if released. Strange beings were sitting on the high tree branches; reptilian creatures six inches to a foot long. Creatures with no fur, no hair. Their wrinkled skin, gray-pink and exposed, shone baldly through the gray darkness.

‘Iguana-like with pointed ears and long bare tails.’

Then there were trees bearing seeds that exploded and spurted more than fifty-feet to take root. And trees with roots hanging from their branches; roots heading down into the earth to take root. Trees with leaves covered with vicious thorns.

These trees and the offshoots of these many dark spirits had been living in this rainforest since the beginning of time; growing more vicious, more cunning, and ore indestructible with each decade. Before and beyond purging they existed. Winds could not jar them loose, nor sun burn them out.

Hot rains taunted them into savage copulations. And when the monsoons came, blinding sheets of rain sent these most-dark spirits back to the bark from whence they had come. There they lurked only to become more vicious and more indestructible with each and every unchanging season; seasons interminable, sticky-hot, wet-heavy.

Here before the druids of Eld, these dark spirits of the jungles. Ere the creation of the Sun, prior to baptism. Before coral reefs in the oceans, prior to mercy, before finned creatures stepped on shore. Predating the birth of beast, they were, and curled-up and at a halt until they sprung forth into the jungle to take root, propagating without pause while keeping within themselves their savage secrets of survival.

Susan’s poems and fiction are on Hurricane Press, Ken *Again, Penman Review, Inner Art Journal, Feathered Flounder, Garbanzo, and Hurricane Press. In 2007, she won the grand prize for poetry from Oneswan.

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