Author Archives: izzyrobertson

Green Man

arc of stars in dark sky

Come, I will show you something magical. There is a glade not far from here where wonder can be beheld. Here; let us settle on this log and observe. It’s beautiful, isn’t it, the way the moonlight plays on the leaves, turns them to mirrors. They shimmer like mercury. See how it silvers the grass that covers that mound on the other side of the clearing; how it ripples very slightly even though there’s hardly a breeze. It almost looks as though the ground is breathing.

Look up. Have you ever seen so many stars? Diamond bright, all those gems, as if some sky pirate has scattered treasure far and wide, so no one being can ever gather it up again. I see you tracing out patterns, some familiar, some less so.

“It looks different here,” you say.

Indeed. For we are between here; between worlds, between planes, call it what you will. But we can see many sets of stars, a myriad of constellations. I know you will recognise Orion, Draco, Ursa Major and Minor. Others too. But some will be new. The doe, the fox, the serpent. And some are more surprising than others. You’ll see. Not long to wait now.

I see your eyes widen but you are not mistaken. It seems that the stars are moving, coalescing, taking on their true forms. And yes, here they come, tumbling and dancing, flying down from the heavens and leaving crystalline trails behind them.

The hare is first, silver whiskers twitching as she bounds, weightless, across the clearing. The fox follows and a shoal of glittering minnows dart impossibly in and out of the trees. The badger and the mouse amble across the grass and the serpent coils luxuriously around the mound that seems to draw them to it like a magnet.

Look closely. The ground is stirring. He is waking up.

A small giant, a green man made of earth and roots, bark and leaves, sits up in his loamy bed and stretches. His eyes are a deep bright green and he is smiling as he greets his friends, stretching out his hand to stroke heads and backs. A flock of birds swoop in to land on his shoulders and arms and the starry creatures whirl around him until he too stands up and begins to dance. Faster and faster they spin and turn until his guffaw of delighted laughter shakes the leaves on the trees. The star creatures fall to the grass to rest.

The green man remains standing. They wait and sure enough the last visitors arrive, gently and quietly, a doe and a stag, their feet barely touching the grass as they stop in front of the man. Such a moment of peace descends; have you ever felt anything like it?

Then the man bows to the two deer and they return the courtesy. He watches as they turn and gallop back up into the sky, the other animals following one by one. They become smaller and smaller until they resolve back into constellations, sparkling in the indigo.

The green man goes back to his earthy bed and pulls his grassy blanket over himself. He will slumber until the next turn of the wheel.

Wolf

The other side of the story…

Are you frightened? You do not need to fear me – I will not harm you. Well… not unless you give me reason to. Threaten my family, my pack and I will not be held responsible for my actions. Otherwise you go about your business and I go about mine. Mutual respect.

“But…”

You don’t say it but I see the question in your eyes. The things you’ve heard about wolves. The stories that are told about us following people, misleading people, carrying them off and tearing them limb from limb. Tricksy, nefarious, dangerous wolves.

You shouldn’t believe everything you hear. I did not eat the grandmother or destroy the houses of the little pigs. As for the girl in the red cloak… I did not lure her from the path. She sought me out. She wanted things she could not have.  She is dangerous, that one, a wild, dark spirit that should never have been contained in human form. But she wanted what she wanted and when I could not give it she wreaked vengeance not just on me but on my whole bloodline. Words have power you know. A rumour here, a story there, a pretty young girl with a sad face and a knife covered in her grandmother’s blood well hidden in her basket… no wonder the woodcutter was taken in. And the huntsman and the villagers and so many people since. Including you, it would seem.

What did she want, you ask? My skin. Not just to wear it, but to inhabit it. She wanted to oust me from my own body, to use it at will, become a shape shifter. She thought I had the power to make it so, that I would capitulate for one so young and pure and beautiful. But I cannot perform sorcery. I am just a wolf. A talking wolf, you make a fair point, but a wolf nonetheless. There are far stranger things than me in this forest. And even if I could, I am too fond of my own skin to give it up. So I snapped and snarled and eventually ran, her promise ringing in my ears. That I would regret my choice. That my skin would be difficult to live in for ever more. And her lies have made it so. I am maligned, hated and hunted along with the rest of my kin.

You have heard of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. The irony! The girl, the innocent, who wanted to wear a wolf, just because she desired more power, more control than her looks and her wiles gave her. What big eyes she has. All the better to see you with. What a lovely smile she has. All the better to lure you with. What a sweet voice she has. All the better to fool you with. What a black heart she has. All the better to break you with. It’s her you should run from, not me. She still roams these woods so be sure not to stray from the path…

Midwinter

Here’s the sister piece to my last post. I know we’re well past the Solstice, but winter goes on. The cold and the dark can seem relentless so stay warm, find some time to enjoy the stillness and remember that below ground spring is gently stirring. .

Winter puts down her bag

spreads out her cloak

settles in.

The earth stills, draws in to rest.

Light fades early, returns late,

inky shadows swallow sunsets and cloud bears down

with impossible, ephemeral weight.

When the Holly King is in full charge

and the earth slumbers in the cold

we long for Yule

the turn of the wheel

the return on the light.

We are halfway through the dark.

Midsummer

Here’s a poem. Just in case you’ve not come across hag stones before, they’re stones with naturally worn holes through them . It is said that if you look through the hole, you can see faeries and the world of the fey.

To see the world with faery sight

The mirrored streams and crystal skies

Lift your hag stone to your eye

Look through it and believe.

This wood’s a labyrinth of ancient trees

winding thorny vine

With twisted limbs and time gnarled hands

That grasp and shake like dearest friends

And shade the velvet floor

As ivy winds and courses up

To drip green gems from higher boughs

Sends shards of light like softest silk

To render edges black blade sharp

The sun falls through the sylvan net

twistiing thorny vine

And calls the starlings home to roost

The edges blur, long shadows ink

Their runes upon the trunks

The moon begins her silent flight

Across a star encrusted field

And calls forth from the underglow

All forms of beings dark and light

Dryads slip through cracks in bark

twistiing thorny vine

An owl swoops low on ghost like wing

Naiad, hedgehog, oakman, hare

Come to greet the Summer King

Old spirits rise from stone and soil

They dance a heartbeat through the earth

They sing the water and the sky

And plant their feet on old, old paths

twistiing thorny vine

As spiders spin their silver charms

To catch the jewels of the dawn

Like early mist the visions drift

And disappear down hidden lanes

And yet they leave a resonance,

A thrum in soft, green scented air

So lift your hag stone to your eye

You may yet see them there.

Reflections on the Apocalypse

I wrote this in 2016 but it seems just as relevant now. Given what’s been happening recently in terms of climate change awareness, I thought I’d share it. Perhaps there is some hope after all.

gold and blue earth globe apocalyptic

The apocalypse, when it came, took most people by surprise, even though it had long been predicted.

Well, people can be as selective with their science as they are with their statistics, and we all know that you can make statistics say whatever you like.

Plus the fact there were far more important things to think about, like who was to blame for the refugee crisis and what colour lipstick Kim Kardashian was wearing.

Anyway, it was quiet and gradual, the apocalypse, no catastrophic events (hurricanes and earthquakes notwithstanding), no nuclear war, no asteroid collision; an apocalypse by stealth if you will. Not enough people paid attention until it was too late.

You see, times were troubled. People didn’t know what to believe any more, so much fake news and political spin. The truth was in there somewhere, but so well buried it couldn’t dig itself out. Opinions were the new black and so opinions disguised as truth became the new truth and people believed what they chose to, what fitted with their world view. It was more comfortable that way than asking questions, looking beyond the reflection and into the room.

So, as we are what we eat, people fed on a diet of fear, anger and false assurances were more likely to worry about whether their neighbour of years had become a terrorist than the extinction of countless little known species of insect, and whether immigration was really the root of all evil rather than the loss of the planet’s lungs to palm oil and cattle feed.

People everywhere were afraid but they didn’t know what they were really afraid of. People were angry but they didn’t know exactly what they were angry about. Fear and anger do not make good bedfellows. People turned against their neighbours. Communities turned against each other. There was squabbling and unrest, laws made and pacts broken, wars fought and blame cast. And all the while the seas were rising and the weather was changing and the ecosystems were breaking down.

But those in power were rich and getting richer while the general populace was distracted, so that was OK. And those people that did notice? The ones that did protest and make a fuss, march with their banners, sign petitions and sit in fields day in, day out to protect the land? A minor irritation, nothing that a negligent media and some juicy celebrity gossip couldn’t handle.

When the last rhino died, it didn’t even make the front pages. The demise of the orangutans caused a bit more of a stir. ‘Very sad’ was the general consensus on Twitter. The tigers, well, that was a shame, magnificent animals but then again they do kill people so, you know. Maybe not such a loss…

It was the bees that finished it. There were warnings, many warnings, but they were largely ignored. When they went, along with countless other pollinators, the multi nationals finally realised that you can’t hand pollinate enough food for seven billion people and chemicals alone won’t make stuff grow. Shrinking land mass and changes in air quality didn’t help. And so the apocalypse had arrived, a slow and painful demise of humanity and most other life on the planet. There are very few of us left now, clinging on to barely nothing. Soon we’ll be like the dinosaurs, history conserved in the bones of the world.

And Earth? She’ll be all right. She’ll just start all over again…

The Demon Of Self Doubt

Red Monster eyes and fangs

Self doubt.

Most of us know this demon far better than we would like. For writers, he’s that niggle at the back of your mind, the little negative voice in your ear, the shadow over all you do. He’s insidious and nasty, souring any sense of achievement and tempting you to consign everything immediately to the bin.

I haven’t been on here for a while. He and I have been having a bit of a to-do. You see my mojo went on sabbatical in December and took my self confidence along for the ride, leaving me to face the sharp claws of winter alone. Self doubt took full advantage.

Consequently, everything I’ve written over the past few months has been consigned to the recycling bin or hidden in the virtual drawer awaiting redrafting. Nothing seems to work. I have a head full of ideas, of characters clamouring for attention, but it all falls apart on the page.

Self doubt is really enjoying himself. He pokes me frequently. “That’s rubbish,” he says. “It’s boring and derivative. You’re better at procrastinating than writing. Why do you bother?”

It’s a good question. And he’s right, I’m very good at procrastinating. So I ask myself, why do I bother? Why do I write and think about writing and find characters feeding me information even when I’m trying to focus on other things.

I get the same answer that I always do.

Because I can’t not write. Because I can’t imagine not being immersed in other worlds, other lives, in all those stories flying around just waiting to be told. Even though it can be frustrating and lonely and antisocial and time consuming, I still want to write. Even when I think I don’t. Even when that pesky demon is hissing in my ear.

We all have things that we love to do, love to put time and effort into. Why should self doubt undermine that? Why should he stand in the way?

So. My mojo may not be back yet but at least she left me my Doc Martens. Time to put them on and assist that demon out of the door with a carefully placed boot!

Future Calling

Sometimes you need to listen to that quiet inner voice…

Steampunk Clock

 

 

Hey you. Yes, you. It’s your future calling.

Well, one possibility anyway. The best, I’d like to think.

I’ve seen some of the others and they’re not…

 

So anyway

I was watching you sleep earlier

Peaceful, your arm thrown over your forehead.

Now you’re eating breakfast, toast, marmalade,

Unaware that later today she’s going to call you

And offer you an opportunity, a chance

The one you secretly long for.

I so hope you take it

I know what’s most likely to happen

And it’s me.

 

But of course you don’t know that.

I have the benefit of hindsight and you, well,

You have questions and concerns

All those other possible futures crowding in with their

Doubts and insecurities, their what ifs and wherefores.

I can see an alternative now, one of many, and it’s OK

Nothing spectacular but comfortable

Safe.

If you choose that path at the fork, you’ll be all right,

Happy even.

But you’ll always wonder.

 

Yes, I know nothing’s certain, even me.

But this. This is so important.

This is your dream.

It could be your life.

Trust yourself.

It won’t all be roses, it won’t all be easy,

But I see those other futures and most of them

Are tinged with regret for the step not taken,

The no instead of yes.

Please.

It’s a leap of faith but take it.

Let yourself fly.

The Myth of Turret Shells

I bought this beautiful card several years ago and it planted the seed for this little tale which is part of a collection I’m working on entitled Great Grandmother’s Tales From The Shore.

Sea Unicorn by Brett. Card by Sunrise Publications Inc.

 

“We always collected things when we went to the beach, shells, stones, driftwood, bits of sea worn glass. Treasures from the deep, Great Grandma called them. Gifts from the sea. They all have a tale to tell, a secret history. You just have to open yourself to it.

I love the turret shells because they aren’t really shells at all. People only think they are because they’ve lost the ability to believe in anything that can’t be proved. And maybe they do get seconded by homeless invertebrates from time to time. Maybe the hermit crab isn’t the only thing in the sea that lives as a squatter. I don’t know. But I do know they’re not shells.

Because they’re horns.

See, when the white horses are first born out in the waves, they all have a horn, just the one, in the centre of their foreheads above their eyes. And to start with, they live out there amongst the rollers and the breakers, learning to trot and canter and gallop, to race the winds as they whip the surface, to swim in the deep blue as the sun turns it to gold.

But when they come of age, they reach the time of the calling. It is a choice that each and every one must make. They are drawn towards the shore and, in the in between, where the water changes colour as the earth rises beneath it, they must decide whether to stay in the sea or forge a new path on the land.

Those that come ashore hide in forests and green places. We call them unicorns.

Those that remain behind lose their horns. They stay and play out in the open water. We only see them as white caps on the waves.

The horns become houses for little shellfish. Or mementos picked up on a day at the beach.

There are less of them now. Far less than when I was a child. I wonder why that might be.”

The Swallows

“They’re here! They’re here!”

swallows in flight

Her cry had us all running from wherever we were, the kitchen, the barn, the vegetable garden, the hen house, running, up the pocked, rough track that served as a driveway, to the wide wooden gate.

“Look, look,” she was calling, pointing upwards with both hands at once. “They’re really here. At last.”

I stopped and squinted into the sky, the brightness hurting my eyes after the dimness of the barn. Occasional ribbons of white cloud broke the aching blue, straggling across it with no urgency whatsoever.  The tops of the trees were utterly still, not a whisper of a breeze to stir them. The grass was dry and brown, the dust heavy on the track and the road beyond. It had been like this for days. As if the world was holding its breath, just waiting for them. Continue reading

Drinking The Sky

sunset, drink the sky, distil the colours

Once there was a girl who had a rainbow heart.

It called to the sunrise, lavender and soft rose birthing a new day.

It soared in the shocking blue of a clear summer sky.

It drifted with the cirrus and the cumulus and roared with the steel grey storm clouds.

It remembered whirling snowflakes and floating mist, heavy raindrops and gentle breezes.

It danced as low mellow light fell through branches and turned fallen beech leaves into rivers of molten copper.

When the sun gilded the horizon with gold, it sang.

It inhaled the sunset, the deep reds and oranges lasting only a few moments before the cloak of twilight hid them away.

It slumbered beneath the indigo night and dreamt of stars.

Wouldn’t you like one? A heart like hers?