KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 7: Spring 2017
Tanka Tale: 424 words

Hearts of Oak

by Claire Everett
—with apologies to William Shakespeare

come hither
join hands around the bole
we believed there’d be
no enemy, but winter
and rough weather

When he laid with his love in the dappled shade as the musky hollow hummed with bees, did he think beyond the next mast of acorns, the soft thwack of dust motes set adrift from October’s clock?

Rest is brief for the hunted. Surely his days raced ahead of him, like the vixen in the bracken with the wind of autumn on her heels, or the ermine, slender as the new moon of winter, who took her colour from the snow?

When his arrows sang through the greenwood and he tuned his merry note to the sweet bird’s throat, did he ever dream it would come to this?

It will take six strong men to girdle it, this oak that beats with the hearts of thirty-three ages.

The time for new outlaws has come.

the king is dead
they said, long live the May queen!
and the sheriff
who does her bidding,
the one they call Ineos


Author’s Notes:

January 2017: News breaks that the Conservative government under [Prime Minister] Theresa May has granted the huge chemical giant Ineos licences to explore for shale gas on a million acres of land across the UK. The company now intends to carry out seismic imaging surveys of Sherwood Forest to explore the viability of shale gas and the site’s suitability for fracking.

Historically, Sherwood Forest stretched from Sheffield to Nottingham and, according to folklore, was the home of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Documents have surfaced which indicate that Ineos’ surveys will be undertaken within 200 metres of the 1000-year-old Major Oak which, legend has it, sheltered the bandit and his men from their enemies. The tree attracts over 600,000 visitors every year [and won England’s first Tree of the Year competition in 2014].

It has been reported that terms have been agreed between Ineos and the Forestry Commission allowing the company to start burying charges; for up to two years, Ineos will be permitted to use vibroseis machines (commonly known as “thumper trucks”) to search for shale gas. Thousands of protesters have started to gather at the site, and organisations such as Friends of the Earth and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds are campaigning against the proposals. Apart from the risk of untold destruction of natural habitats and the impact on global warming, the latter is particularly concerned for resident breeding birds such as woodlarks and nightjars, since these are specially protected under UK and European law.

(News Sources: “Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest faces fracking threat” by Gwyn Topham in The Guardian [1 January 2017], and “Protestors gather at Major Oak over Sherwood Forest fracking survey plans” by Laura Hammond in Nottingham Post [7 January 2017].)


Finalist, KYSO Flash “One Life, One Earth” Writing Challenge


Site contains text, proprietary computer code,
and graphic images that are protected by:

⚡   Many thanks for taking time to report broken links to: KYSOWebmaster [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡