KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Tanka Tale: 430 words
Ekphrasis: DavenTree

Windfall Wood

by Claire Everett

The ash is very tall, dear to men,
stout in its trunk, its hilt is rightfully fixed,
although it fights against many men.

—from The Rune Poem, Anglo-Saxon, circa 8th–9th century CE

child poverty and food banks...
the Stark Reality”
as a pie chart

a sudden gust
another story...
a patchwork
of stricken counties
“Our Green and Pleasant Land”

thumbing the pages
of yesterday’s news
this chill wind
might well have the fungus
in its pores

Ten minutes is all it takes. Here is solace. Here is grace. A small grove etched as if with stained-glass lead against a frameless sky. I know them well: the first to shed their gold, the last to unfurl the blood of spring.

Wasn’t it Constable who spoke of that young lady, the one whom he sketched when she was in rude health and shimmering beauty? The one who bore the indignity of a warning to vagrants and beggars being nailed to her side? He lamented how she had seemingly soon withered, becoming slowly paralysed, until, at last, she was hacked down to a stump, just above the wretched board.

There’s a woman on the path ahead of me, weaving in and out of the trees. I am usually the only walker in the edgelands at this hour.

“Good morning!”

I softly alert her to my presence. Nothing worse than being startled. But my greeting is met only with wren song.

now dimming like a spark
from the great fire-steel
time to gather windfall wood
perfect for staves

come the day
she will write runes with flame
and the girl-child
will learn the virtues of æsc
trace its shape in the dust

then boldly
the dread mark of ēar
the Leveller—
for she knows she was born
of the breath of Woden


Author’s Notes:

Thought to be wind-borne, Chalara dieback of ash (also known as “Chalara,” or Chalara ash dieback, or ash dieback) is a disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus and was first confirmed in Britain in 2012.

The ash tree John Constable (1776–1837) referred to as young lady was immortalised by the painter and can be viewed at: The V&A Museum

The Anglo-Saxons used the runes as an alphabet for writing (and, as some believe, for magic). The characters are known collectively as the Futhorc from the Old English sound values of the first six runes. “æsc” (transliteration æ) means “ash tree,” and “ēar” (transliteration ea) is thought to mean “grave.”

Woden is the Anglo-Saxon counterpart of the Norse god Odin.



—Winner, KYSO Flash The DavenTree Writing Challenge

[The DavenTree] drawing by poet Steve Davenport

“Another cup of Mad Hatter, please”: Judging The DavenTree Writing Challenge


Claire Everett
Issue 11, Spring 2019

is the founding editor of Skylark Publishing and Skylark: the journal, and former tanka-prose editor for Haibun Today. She is the author of two tanka collections, twelve moons and The Small, Wild Places; and co-author of Hagstones: A Tanka Journey with Joy McCall, and Talking in Tandem with her husband, Tony Everett. Claire served on the editorial team for Take Five Best Contemporary Tanka (Volume 4, 2011), and in 2015 she edited the Tanka Society of America’s Members’ Anthology, Spent Blossoms. She joined the editorial panel for the Red Moon Anthology in 2017.

Claire is mum to five children and step-mum to two and likes nothing better than to be cycling through the Dales with Tony on their trusty tandem Tallulah, or walking on the North Yorkshire Moors.

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