Before, I lived in woods, smelled leaves in bud
and knew a thousand words for green,
loved to sit cushioned by bright emerald moss
where slanting suns patterned my body
with shadows of twigs and branches,
an elemental camouflage, calming
as the trees’ continuous pulse.
I could feel sap rise.
Before, I’d wait all day, present
to the imperceptible footfall of deer,
the ripple of blackbirds’ wings.
I’d hear a moth alight.
Darkness my blanket, even without the moon
my fingers read each object, which plant, tree I touched,
this rough and warm, that coldly velvet
and from a branch aloft breathing the dawn
my skin sensed danger:
the silence of something rather than nothing.
Before, perhaps all that.
Now I know only that I love the woods.

Cicely Gill is a poet, playwright and novelist. She self-published a detective story, "Ivory" in 2013. She graduated from Oxford University many moons ago and now lives on the Isle of Arran in Scotland. Past careers include craft jeweller and eating disorders therapist. She married with two children and four grandchildren. She tries to write every day but life interrupts. Main interruptors are: involvement with the Community Of Arran Seabed Trust and the Arran Theatre and Arts Trust under whose aegis she is joint organiser of the McLellan Poety Competition. One of her favourite poets is William Stafford.