Wednesday 25 October 2023

Poetry 2023 Longlist, Sreelekha Chatterjee

Alone in the Forest

In the silence of the moonlit night, the old forest awakens,

uninviting, scary demeanor like a grisly monster with dragon heads,

as I tread through the tangled path that beckons.

My thoroughfare seems a plight, as trees stare with blood-red eyes

like custodians of the souls that lost their lives,

passing through the deserted woods, we still hear their cries.

I twirl about, gazing at the dense canopy of centuries-old trees

with sprawling limbs shielding the darkness,

blocking the stars and the moon, even a light’s sparkle cannot squeeze.

Unwieldy combs of soggy moss dangles from their rotten, moldy boughs,

remaining quiet like mute spectators with watchful, stony eyes,

a calm before a storm, the saying goes, as mystery shrouds.

Wildflowers, twigs, and fallen leaves crunch beneath my feet,

as I hasten through the route in an earnest endeavor

to remain alive till my village is reached, it’s my fate that I’ll cheat.

Bewailing sounds of surreptitious beings ghost through the trees,

tormenting echoes and squabbles that hang along with an acrid odor,

from the tenebrous depth, phantoms rise to seize.

A teeth-gritting experience that heightens with the malign breeze,

I bite my tongue nervously, and the metallic kick of blood spills,

amongst decaying air and stifling atmosphere, where mortals freeze.

As I move past the trees and eerie shrubs,

in the dense shadows, spiders clutch their snare-strings,

their webs shimmer as silvery streaks like a death-trap curves.

Muffled voices pronounce my stifled scream,

while I find blackened shadows up my cold, sweaty heels,

I so wish it’s only a dark, creepy dream.

Whining winds and musty air threaten one who breathes

they are eating under the shadowy groves of unholy trees,

drooling over the sight of a lonely soul on whom death enwreathes.

Chewing and chomping on some monstrous feast,

slurping, gnawing, and gobbling on meat, like a knife grinding on a stone,

sound intensifying, my body weakens, unable to remain upright at the least.

As the wild vines, tall grasses, gnarled branches of trees, brambles

close in on me, the howling wind bawls,

when the lightning flashes and the unknown cloud-less form rumbles.

Beware of the dark forest and its torturous death

is all I recall that I heard before the venture,

for it’s the demonic entity that’s bound to take your last breath. 

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