They come here in their thousands every year,
Desperate to hear birds singing and water slapping on the stones
Instead of the noises that drive them to despair back home:
The rumbling of cars, horns blaring as their drivers’ tempers flare at crossings
And street corners; people shouting orders across crowded bars;
Muzac blaring from the open doors of every shop and store.
They come here to walk beneath swaying trees, leaves crunching
Beneath their feet, laughing as daredevil squirrels leap
From branch to branch above their heads, tiny silhouettes
Against the fume-free sky.
They come here for peace, to gulp down the golds and blues and greens.
Some walk hand in hand with loved ones along puddle-pitted paths.
Others are happy to savour the silence on their own, their phones forgotten
For a few priceless hours…
But clearly others despise such precious places.
Standing in these wonder-filled wide open spaces
They can’t bear to look up and see the achingly-pretty
Blue sky without wanting to scrawl graffiti on it;
Can’t gaze upon a forest of tall, cloud-scraping trees
Without wanting to hack them down,
Cheering as they crash to the ground,
Slaughtered with chainsaws that buzz like a million bees.
In their eyes a shimmering lake is just… water,
A flat, empty plate of it,
Something for people to look down on as they fly over it,
Screaming, dangling beneath a screeching wire…
It’s hard to understand such vandalism
When our towns and cities expand every day,
Spreading-out like mould on a dirty plate.
“Progress” and “development” devour the countryside
With an appetite that never seems to fade.
Every year we lose more grass, more trees,
More birds, plants and bees.
Our oceans are dirtier, the very air we breathe grows fouler too.
So who could look at such a rare, unspoiled view
And think “It would look even more beautiful
Criss-crossed by a cobweb of wires”?
Just how cold does your heart have to be to believe
That people’s shrieks and screams, and the R2D2-beeping
Of cash-filled tills, would be more thrilling to hear
Than the soft footsteps of a family of deer
Or the wind whispering through the trees?
© Stuart Atkinson Dec 31 2017