The Green Man by Allen Ashley

The Green Man

You’ve seen him on pub signs, of course:
a country-dwelling, jovial chap.
Today he’s been rendered safe:
follow him across the road.
He’s the smiling bearded face on church walls
but we’ve known him longer than we’ve known
           the Church
           or Christianity
or other mystery cults from the Middle East.
He’s there in jack o’ lanterns, jack of shadows,
Pan and Robin of Locksley;
every heroic British man-jack;

Follow him across the river and into the trees;
don’t look back.

We draw him in clothing – ragged trousers.
hand-sewn jerkin – but really we
know he would most likely frolic
with nymphs, dryads and Wiccan priestesses
coyly described as “sky clad”.

See him grinning at our mortal concerns.
He is laughing at those who equate him
with the Horned One, The Beast, Old Nick.
Too many in these days think in black and white
and he is green. Fertile, virile, abundant…
but due for rebirth.

Allen Ashley’s latest book (as editor) is “Sensorama: Stories of the Senses” (Eibonvale Press, 2015). He recently guest-edited the online magazine “Sein und Werden”. He is the judge for the British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition. He is also the co-author of “Dreaming Spheres: Poems of the Solar System” with Sarah Doyle (PS Publishing, 2014).

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