Art by Chip Ghigna
The Night the Forest Came to Town
a picture book in progress
It was silent in the city
When the cracks began to form
In the moonlight late one August
When the concrete was still warm.
A stirring in the shadows
Found the young shoots rising fast,
Then another and another
Till the sidewalks turned to grass.
The streets began to crumble
With a sudden rush of green
From the roots that choked the sewers
Where they waited sight unseen.
In the quiet of each basement
Bulging mushrooms broke the floor,
Swelling through the subway,
Breaking into every store.
In the Grand Hotel green lichen
Laced the lobby walls in tiers
While Spanish moss in tattered shawls
Hung from the chandeliers.
Throughout the hallowed hush of night
Without a trace or sound
From the hollow mountain caverns
Silent creatures started down.
A mink and fox were followed
By a badger and a shrew,
Then raccoon, deer and rabbits
Joined the roving rendezvous.
An owl chased a chipmunk
Down the shadowed mountainside
While three squirrels scampered by them
In a game of run and hide.
The silver moon slid slowly
Behind a darken cloud
As the forest swarmed the city
Like a stealthy rushing crowd.
The sky grew black with solemn crows
Whose claws were full of seeds
That scattered over city streets
In clouds of future weeds.
Lightning clapped, thunder roared,
The rain beat down in sheets
Till muddy fields of seedlings choked
The empty city streets.
Beneath the swirling shroud of night
New fertile fields were found
And where the concrete sidewalks sat
Young trees soon held their ground.
And in a wink of owl’s eye
The storm clouds passed away;
Midnight in the city,
But the moon shone bright as day.
In the fountain by the city square
Beavers built a dam
That grew into a moonlit lake
Where trout and salmon swam.
An eagle built a nest upon
The statue in the park
That wore a coat of kudzu vine
That flourished in the dark.
The dawn was but a distant dream
When first the cry was heard,
Beneath the veil of twilight’s blush,
A hungry baby bird.
Morning broke, the sun burned bright,
The sky turned azure blue,
And where the city once had stood--
The forest grew . . .
. . . and grew.